This study aimed to develop a non-invasive method for in vivo measurement of the transepithelial potential difference in the canine small bowel and to evaluate this parameter in small bowel autotransplants. In group 0 (control group, n = 4), two intestinal loops were created without disturbing their vascular, neural, and lymphatic supplies. In group I (successful autotransplants, n = 11), two heterotopic small bowel loops were constructed. Long term functional sequelae of vascular, neural, and lymphatic division were studied. Group II (n = 6) consisted of dogs with unsuccessful autotransplants suffering thrombosis of the vascular anastomosis, which resulted in ischaemic small bowel autografts. In group I, values of spontaneous transepithelial potential difference, an index of base line active electrolyte transport, were significantly lower compared with group 0 (p less than 0.05), probably as a result of denervation of the autotransplants. Both theophylline and glucose stimulated potential difference responses, measuring cyclic adenosine monophosphate mediated chloride secretion and sodium coupled glucose absorption respectively, showed negative luminal values in group I at all time points after transplantation. These transepithelial potential difference responses diminished progressively with time. From day 21 onwards both theophylline and glucose stimulated potential difference responses were significantly less than the corresponding responses at day seven (p less than 0.05). Morphometric analysis showed that the reduction of transepithelial potential difference responses preceded degenerative mucosal changes in the heterotopic small bowel autografts. In group II, potential difference responses to theophylline and glucose showed positive luminal values (p<0.01 v group I), probably as a result of passive potassium effusion from necrotic enterocytes.
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