The pathogenesis of villous damage in coeliac disease is unknown. Change to the delicate neuromuscular core may be significant and this study stained various categories of coeliac disease and controls with neuron-specific enolase (NSE) to examine neurofilaments in the mucosa. The amount of NSE staining was evaluated using computer image analysis. The first part of the study compared coeliac disease with Crohn's disease, carcinoma, and biopsy specimens from normal subjects. There was increased NSE staining in both the coeliac disease and Crohn's disease cases but not in carcinomas or normal controls. This difference was statistically significant. The average value for the coeliac disease patients was 50% higher than that of Crohn's disease patients. The second part of the study compared treated coeliac disease with untreated coeliac disease. Treated coeliac disease cases had normal amounts of NSE staining, which were the same as normal controls. These findings suggest that neuroproliferation is a feature of coeliac disease and Crohn's disease. Both share a common feature--namely chronic inflammation--which has been occasionally associated with neuroproliferation. The fact that neuroproliferation resolves with treatment is further evidence for its association with chronic inflammation. The extra neuroproliferation seen in coeliac disease compared with Crohn's disease may contribute to the architectural abnormalities seen in coeliac disease.
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