1. Jejunal biopsies from five patients with non-responsive coeliac disease have been subjected to analytical subcellular fractionation and enzymic microassay in order to compare the organelle pathology of this group with untreated but gluten-sensitive patients.
2. Compared with the gluten-sensitive group these non-responsive patients showed marked reduction of the endoplasmic reticulum enzymes, normal activities of lysosomal enzymes and slightly less severely reduced brush border activities.
3. It is suggested that the present biochemical studies in combination with previous clinical reports and measurements of DNA and protein synthesis by cultured mucosal biopsies delineate non-responsive coeliac disease as a distinct entity.
4. The patients were treated with oral prednisolone (20 mg daily) for between 5 and 9 weeks and the properties of the jejunal biopsies restudied.
5. Although morphologically there was only a partial restoration of the villus architecture the enzymic alterations and organelle abnormalities returned essentially to normal values.