To compare the enterotrophic effects of different triglycerides, five groups of eight rats were fed mixed diets giving 50% of calories as oils rich in either essential fatty acids (EFA), alpha-linolenic acid, fully saturated fatty acids, oleic acid, or medium chain fatty acids. After 21-24 days there were no significant differences between the groups in overall small intestinal whole gut weight, mucosal weight, or mucosal DNA; overall mucosal protein showed slight variation (p < 0.05) that was compatible with differences in food intake between the groups. However, long chain triglycerides (LCT) and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) differed in their regional effects on cell proliferation; all four LCT rich diets increased mucosal mass and cell proliferation maximally in the mid small intestine, while MCT had their greatest effect proximally. Subsequently, two groups of eight rats were fed diets in which EFA or MCT were given as twice daily boluses (29% of dietary calories) for 20 to 23 days and compared with a third group of eight rats receiving a glucose rich, low fat diet. EFA and MCT boluses increased the overall parameters of small intestinal mucosal mass and for both oils the effects were now maximal in the mid small intestine. Thus different triglycerides have similar effects on overall small intestinal mucosal mass, but MCT differ from LCT in their regional effects on mucosal cell proliferation when they are given in mixed diets, although not when given as boluses.
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