Rats were injected intraperitoneally with mecamylamine (Inversine) in doses that were believed to have reduced peristaltic activity in the small intestine. Large numbers of Escherichia coli were present throughout the lumen of the small intestine of animals treated for two or three days and killed within three hours of the last dose of the drug. Histological changes in the small intestinal mucosa of these animals included an increase in the number of goblet cells and shortening and thickening of the villi. Bacteria invaded the intestinal wall of some of the animals. Animals killed 24 hours after the last dose of the drug showed no significant change from the normal controls.
The findings support the hypothesis that bacteria are removed mechanically from the normal small intestine by peristalsis. Certain of the histological changes are similar to those seen in the small intestine in malabsorptive conditions in man and the relationship between hypomotility, the bacterial population, and malabsorption is discussed.
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