This study was designed to determine if the differential effect of high fat and high carbohydrate meals on mesenteric blood flow is a result of changed gastric emptying rate. Eight healthy men were studied twice. Superior mesenteric artery blood flow (Doppler ultrasound) was measured before and after a 2.5 MJ meal (either 74% of the energy as carbohydrate or 71% as fat). Emptying of meals was followed by gamma-scintigraphy. The pattern of the superior mesenteric artery blood flow response was different after the two meals (interaction effect p < 0.001 analysis of variance), with a far more sustained response after fat. The time by which half the meal had emptied (t50) was also significantly greater after fat (p < 0.02). Superior mesenteric artery blood flow corresponding to t50 was 449 ml/min after carbohydrate and 592 ml/min after fat. There was a significant curvilinear relation between the superior mesenteric artery blood flow response and gastric emptying after carbohydrate (r2 = 0.94) and no relation at all after fat. This study confirms the finding that ingestion of meals with a high fat content slows gastric emptying compared with meals with a high carbohydrate content in healthy volunteers. A more sustained mesenteric hyperaemia was also recorded after the fat meal compared with the carbohydrate meal. The relation, however, between the volume of meal remaining in the stomach and the mesenteric response was considerably different after the two meals. Further study is required to elucidate the mechanism behind the vascular responses recorded in the mesenteric bed after food in humans.
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