In 10 southern Indian patients with tropical sprue, in vivo dialysis showed a defect of absorption of water and sodium from the rectum, when compared with 11 healthy volunteers. Sodium-potassium-ATPase activity, measured in homogenates of rectal biopsies, was significantly diminished in patients with sprue. Magnesium-ATPase and alkaline phosphatase were normal in biopsy homogenates. Decreased activity of colonic sodium-potassium-ATPase may contribute to diarrhoea in some patients with tropical sprue.
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