Despite the topical action of colloidal bismuth subcitrate in promoting the healing of peptic ulcers, slight absorption of bismuth from the gastrointestinal tract has been reported in colloidal bismuth subcitrate-treated animals and man. The uptake and subcellular distribution of bismuth by the gastrointestinal tract of rats after 24 hours of colloidal bismuth subcitrate administration was studied. Mucosal uptake of bismuth (mean +/- SEM nmol/g protein) by gastric fundus (8.85 +/- 1.0) and antrum (7.23 +/- 1.50) was similar, but was significantly less than duodenum (19.2 +/- 3.7, p less than 0.05), jejunum (26.9 +/- 2.4, p less than 0.001) or ileum (22.4 +/- 2.2, p less than 0.001). Bismuth concentrations in antral and duodenal mucosae fell progressively over 72 hours to approximately 10% of initial concentrations (p less than 0.02). Subcellular fractionation studies of colloidal bismuth subcitrate treated duodenal enterocytes showed a brush border membrane and cytosolic localisation. These data suggest that some gastrointestinal mucosal uptake of bismuth occurs in colloidal bismuth subcitrate treated rats.
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