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Lewin KJ, Riddell RH, Weinstein WM. Chapter 20. Small bowel mucosal disease. In: Gastrointestinal Pathology and its Clinical Implications. Volume 2. Igaku-Shoin, Tokyo. 1992; 750-811.

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Mucosal Recovery and Mucosal Healing in Biopsy-Defined Adult Celiac Disease

1Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

International Journal of Celiac Disease. 2017, Vol. 5 No. 1, 14-18
DOI: 10.12691/ijcd-5-1-4
Copyright © 2017 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Hugh James Freeman. Mucosal Recovery and Mucosal Healing in Biopsy-Defined Adult Celiac Disease. International Journal of Celiac Disease. 2017; 5(1):14-18. doi: 10.12691/ijcd-5-1-4.

Correspondence to: Hugh  James Freeman, Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Email:


Celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is an immune mediated disorder with characteristic histopathological small bowel mucosal changes that respond to a strict gluten-free diet. Recent studies have suggested that complete (rather than partial) mucosal recovery and healing is possible, but in some this may require a more prolonged period than is currently appreciated. In this study, 182 patients (60 males, 122 females) referred for evaluation of symptoms, including diarrhea and weight loss, were selected only if initial biopsies showed characteristic inflammatory changes with severe architectural disturbance. All patients were treated with a strict gluten diet alone and diet compliance regularly monitored. Up to 90% or more of patients showed a complete mucosal response or healing. A time-dependent rate of response was noted with most patients requiring more than 1 year, and even 2 years or more, to respond, however, complete mucosal healing was still possible within 6 months. In this evaluation, females in each of 4 different age ranges had mucosal response and healing rates superior to males, while elderly celiacs had lower rates. Such factors should be considered before labeling a patient with “non-responsive” disease. However, inflammatory changes with persistent architectural disturbance, especially in celiacs with a late diagnosis and resultant late initiation of a gluten-free diet treatment, may be at increased risk for a later small bowel complication, including lymphoma.