The aim of our experiments was to produce a local T cell mediated immune response to gliadin in the mouse small intestine as a possible animal model of gluten sensitive enteropathy, coeliac disease. BALB/c and BDF1 mice were immunised systemically with gliadin in complete Freund's adjuvant. The jejunal mucosa was challenged by feeding a gluten containing diet, and villus and crypt lengths, crypt cell production rate, and intraepithelial lymphocyte counts were determined to assess mucosal cell mediated immunity. In some animals permeability and local immunity were modulated by concurrent intestinal anaphylaxis or a graft versus host reaction. There were no changes in the jejunal mucosa of BALB/c mice fed a gluten containing diet after having been parenterally immunized. When, however, mice were parenterally immunised with gliadin, fed a gluten containing diet, rendered hypersensitive to helminth antigen by infection with the nematode parasite Nippostrongylus brasiliensis, and challenged intravenously to produce intestinal anaphylaxis crypt cell production rate was significantly higher than in ovalbumin immunized controls at 12 days after parasite challenge. Finally, graft versus host reaction was induced in BDF1 mice that had been parenterally immunised with gliadin and were on a gluten containing diet. Two weeks later these mice had significantly longer crypts and a higher crypt cell production rate and intraepithelial lymphocyte count than control, unimmunized mice with graft versus host reaction. We conclude that active immunization with gliadin does not in itself produce intestinal cell mediated immunity to gliadin contained in the diet, or enteropathy. Additional factors, such as those occurring during intestinal anaphylaxis (increase intestinal permeability), or during graft versus host reaction (enhanced antigen presentation), seem to be necessary for the full expression of a jejunal mucosal reaction.
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