Intestinal permeability has been investigated in the normal rat by measuring the five hour urine excretion of 51Cr-EDTA after intragastric administration. Twelve control animals excreted 2.06% +/- 0.22 (mean +/- SE) of the administered dose. Prolonged intestinal transit times with atropine had no significant effect on the apparent permeability with a urine excretion 2.31% +/- 0.36. The concomitant administration of a hypertonic, but rapidly absorbed glycerol solution, was accompanied by increased urinary excretion (3.05% +/- 0.33) while the administration of a poorly absorbed sugar, lactulose, significantly decreased the apparent permeability (urine excretion 0.61% +/- 0.14) showing that passive intestinal permeability estimations are affected by test dose composition. Enteropathy was induced by ethanol, cetrimide, or methotrexate and each was associated with increased permeability, with urine excretions of 4.19% +/- 0.47, 4.20% +/- 0.66 and 3.97% +/- 0.49 respectively. It is thus suggested that the normal rat mucosa is maximally resistant to the absorption of foreign compounds such as 51Cr-EDTA and intestinal damage will disrupt this barrier.
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