Scanning Microscopy


Jejunal mucosal specimens from twenty children with celiac disease were studied by light microscopy (LM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) after one year of dietary treatment. An ultrastructural morphometric study was performed in five patients who had an intestinal permeability (IP) test. Seventeen patients were tested for serum antigliadin antibodies (AGA). In ten children, in whom LM showed partial villous atrophy, SEM and TEM examination confirmed the lesion. In the second group (10 children) with normal morphology at routine LM, SEM showed lesions of variable degree in 70% of cases. The morphological ultrastructural investigation showed good correlation with the immunological and functional data (IP test): ultrastructural damage of the jejunal mucosa after one year of a gluten-free diet was found in patients with positive serum AGA and an abnormal IP test. Furthermore, the morphometric study of the ultrastructural alterations allowed a quantitative, closer correlation between morphological and functional data. Our results suggest: 1) SEM and TEM investigations offer additional and more complete information on celiac patients, over LM alone. 2) The morphometric evaluation of the ultrastructural alterations highlights quantitative and reproducible correlations between morphological and clinical data, not strengthened by the subjective, qualitative study.

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