Colonic mucus production was measured in vitro by means of incorporation of tritiated glucosamine using biopsy material from patients with ulcerative colitis and compared with data from patients with Crohn's disease, colonic carcinoma, colonic polyps and patients with apparently normal colonic mucosae. Mucus production was significantly decreased (p less than 0.03) in all patients with ulcerative colitis, and in particular in patients with inactive disease when compared with normal subjects. In patients with active disease mucus production was not significantly different from normal subjects. The radiolabelled material was characterised by gel filtration and ion exchange liquid chromatography as mainly high molecular weight glycoproteins. These results indicate that the quantitative character of colonic mucus is abnormal in inactive ulcerative colitis.
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