Fourteen coeliac patients on a gluten free diet (GFD) and 10 on a normal diet were studied by lymphocyte transformation in response to PHA to assess the integrity of cell-mediated immunity (CMI). Transformation was depressed in the majority taking a normal diet, with improvement after a GFD. In some patients the depression may have been due to a serum factor, as transformation was more nearly normal when the lymphocytes were cultured in pooled AB serum than in their own serum. There was no correlation between transformation and nutritional deficiencies. Mantoux tests were performed in some of these and other coeliac patients and there was a very significant reduction in the incidence of positive tests compared with controls. These findings provide evidence of depressed CMI in coeliac patients taking a normal diet with improvement on a GFD and may be of relevance to the high risk of malignancy in coeliac disease, further strengthening the case for a strict GFD.
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