While the proliferative effects of gastrin in the gastric fundus are well established, there is a considerable degree of confusion regarding the role of gastrin on the growth of the small intestine and colon. The hypothesis that gastrin is trophic throughout the gut was tested by giving three doses of pentagastrin and one of gastrin 17 to rats maintained by total parenteral nutrition (TPN). The rats were fed intravenously for one week, with the various peptides added to the TPN diet. The number of vincristine arrested metaphases per gland or crypt was then scored to determine the proliferative state. Both gastrin 17 and pentagastrin were found to be trophic in the gastric fundus, but not to the gastric antrum. A proliferative response was also seen in the duodenum, but with little evidence of a dose response element. No effect on small bowel weight was seen, and no proliferative effect was noted in the mid small bowel, thus the duodenal effect could be attributed to a local action of increased acid output on the duodenum, not a general role throughout the small intestine. No proliferative effects of pentagastrin or gastrin were seen in the colon. It is therefore concluded that the trophic role of gastrin is restricted to the gastric fundus and the proximal duodenum.
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