The role of activated T lymphocytes in gastrointestinal disease

Clin Exp Allergy. 1990 May;20(3):247-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.1990.tb02679.x.


Activated T cells can be visualized in the intestinal lamina propria in a number of gastrointestinal diseases including food-sensitive enteropathy (coeliac disease), inflammatory bowel disease and intractable diarrhoea of infancy. Experimental studies have shown that T-cell activation in human intestinal lamina propria in vitro produces an increase in crypt cell proliferation, villous atrophy, increased HLA-DR expression on enterocytes, increased intra-epithelial lymphocyte numbers, and phenotypically, macrophage activation. All of these features are seen in human gastrointestinal disorders and it is proposed that T-cell activation to wheat (in coeliac disease), milk (cows' milk-sensitive enteropathy), and unidentified luminal antigens (Crohn's disease) plays a primary role in the pathogenesis of these disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Receptors, Interleukin-2