BACKGROUND: L-glutamine and n-butyrate are important nutrients for colonocytes affecting both their structure and function. The effect of these epithelial substrates on resealing of rat distal colon after acid induced injury was studied. METHODS: Isolated colonic mucosa of 32 rats was mounted in Ussing chambers and exposed to Krebs-Ringer solution for four hours. Epithelial injury was induced by short-term exposure to luminal hydrochloric acid and resealing was studied with or without added glutamine or butyrate. RESULTS: Glutamine (luminal and serosal) reduced tissue conductance, mannitol and lactulose permeability, and permeation of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. Glutamine (serosal) diminished conductance and mannitol permeability. Both interventions stimulated bromodeoxyuridine incorporation in nuclei of colonocytes. Luminal butyrate had no measurable effect on these parameters. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that L-glutamine stimulates repair mechanisms of rat colonic mucosa after acid injury. This effect on the gut barrier is associated with a stimulation of crypt cell proliferation. The addition of glutamine to parenteral solutions may be beneficial for patients under intensive care whose intestinal barrier is weakened in the course of sepsis and trauma.
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