A modified Roux-en-Y repositioning of rat small intestine was performed so that the proximal segment of bowel (A) received only bile and pancreastic secretions, the second (B) received food direct from the stomach, and these two segments drained into a third (C). Four to five weeks after operation, cell production was assessed by injection of vincristine into operated, sham-operated and unoperated rats, and counts of blocked metaphases were made on isolated microdissected crypts. Villus height, crypt depth, and the number of crypts per villus (crypt/villus ratio) were also measured. Most of segment A showed no significant differences from sham-operated intestine, although the normal proximo-distal gradient of villus height was abolished. At the distal end (near the anastomosis with segments B and C), crypt depth and cell production were increased. The villus height gradient in segment B was also abolished, although crypt depth and cell production were significantly increased, especially at the proximal end. Crypt/villus ratio was also increased. Segment C showed all the characteristics of small bowel promoted to a more proximal position: increased villus height, crypt depth and cell production. Increased crypt/villus ratio was also observed. These results are discussed in terms of the role of food and of digestive secretions in the control of mucosal morphology and epithelial replacement.
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