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Effect of chronic ethanol ingestion on enterocyte turnover in rat small intestine.
  1. R Mazzanti,
  2. W J Jenkins

    Abstract

    Whether chronic ethanol ingestion significantly damages the small intestine remains controversial. To clarify this we have analysed the morphology of the small intestinal epithelium and quantified its renewal in chronically ethanol fed rats. Twenty adult male rats were pair fed for 28 days a nutritionally adequate liquid diet containing either ethanol as 36% of total calories or an isocaloric diet in which fat substituted for ethanol. Crypt cell production rate was determined in the jejunum and ileum by the metaphase arrest method. Weight gain and small intestinal morphology were similar in ethanol fed and control rats, but enterocyte turnover was significantly reduced in the jejunum (p less than 0.05) and ileum (p less than 0.01) of the ethanol fed rats. This effect of ethanol on the small intestine is probably systemic rather than local, because the changes in jejunum and ileum were similar, and it may contribute to the development of malnutrition in chronic alcoholics.

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