In situ perfusion of whole rat small intestine was used to compare the efficacy of five oral rehydration solutions in promoting water and sodium absorption in normal intestine and secreting intestine after exposure to cholera toxin. Solutions varied in their sodium (35-90 mmol/l) and glucose (111-200 mmol/l) concentrations, molar ratio of glucose:sodium (1.2-5.8), and osmolality (281-331 mOsmol/kg), and contained either bicarbonate (18-30 mmol/l) or citrate (10 mmol/l). In normal intestine all solutions promoted net water absorption. Cholera toxin induced reproducible water secretion but all solutions reversed this to absorption. Water absorption was greatest with solutions containing sodium 60 mmol/l and glucose 111 or 140 mmol/l, and with a glucose:sodium ratio approximately 2, in both normal and secreting intestine. All solutions promoted net glucose absorption in both normal and secreting intestine. Net sodium absorption occurred with solutions containing greater than or equal to 60 mmol/l sodium in normal intestine but sodium secretion occurred from all solutions in secreting intestine. Sodium movement was directly related to the sodium concentration of the solution and sodium secretion occurred despite net water and glucose absorption. We consider that these studies may guide future development of oral rehydration solutions.
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