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Bacteria, bile salts, and intestinal monosaccharide malabsorption
  1. Michael Gracey,
  2. Valerie Burke,
  3. Ademola Oshin,
  4. Judith Barker,
  5. Eric F. Glasgow


    Intestinal monosaccharide transport was studied in a series of rats with a self-filling jejunal blind loop using 3mM arbutin (p-hydroxyphenyl-B-glucoside) or 1mM D-fructose as substrate in vitro and 10 mM arbutin or 5mM D-fructose in vivo. These results were compared with changes in the bacterial flora and state of conjugation of intraluminal bile salts in those animals. Observations were also made of the microscopic and ultrastructural appearances of the small-intestinal epithelium.

    In the small intestine of blind-loop rats intestinal monosaccharide transport is impaired, and in vitro is most marked in the blind loop, less so in the efferent jejunum, and not significantly altered in the afferent jejunum. A similar pattern of disturbed monosaccharide absorption was demonstrated by perfusions in vivo. The degree of the transport defect correlates closely with the luxuriance of the anaerobic flora, which averaged 108 per millilitre in the blind loop, 107 in the efferent jejunum, and 106 in the afferent jejunum. A similar pattern of abnormality of bile salt conjugation occurred. In the blind loop the ratio of free to conjugated bile salts was grossly abnormal; this disturbance was somewhat less marked in the efferent jejunum and considerably less in the intraluminal contents of the afferent jejunum. An irregularly distributed lesion, consisting of swelling and vacuolation of microvilli and intracellular organelles, was demonstrated in the small-intestinal epithelium of blind-loop animals.

    Impaired absorption of monosaccharides is a further consequence of bacterial contamination of the upper gut. It is suggested that this defect is caused by the presence of high levels of deconjugated bile salts produced by an abnormal anaerobic bacterial flora in the small intestine.

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