This study investigated how substitution of long chain triglycerides for glucose in a mixed diet affects the overall small intestinal mucosal mass and the distribution of mucosal mass and cell proliferation along the small intestine. Four groups of eight female Wistar rats (180-200 g) were isocalorically fed mixed diets containing the essential fatty acid rich oil Efamol substituted for glucose at concentrations of 1.2%, 10%, 25%, and 50% total calories for 20 to 23 days. The small intestine was divided into three equal length segments and whole gut weights, mucosal weights, protein and DNA determined. Cell proliferation was estimated from the two hour accumulation of vincristine arrested metaphases in microdissected crypts at points 0%, 17%, 33%, 50%, 66%, and 100% small intestinal length. There were no differences between groups in parameters of overall small intestinal or distal segment mucosal mass. With increasing levels of fat, however, there was a significant trend for the mucosal mass of the proximal segment to fall and that of the middle segment to rise. The pattern of two hour metaphase accumulation reflected these changes. These regional changes in mucosal mass and cell proliferation may reflect differences in the sites of absorption of fat and glucose.
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