Olsalazine (ADS) is the azo-linked dimer of 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA). It is of value for the management of patients with ulcerative colitis but may be associated with increasing diarrhoea in a few. This study examines the effect of 5-ASA and ADS on small intestinal transport systems of the rat. Krebs-Ringer-bicarbonate solution was circulated through the lumen of a jejunal segment and the appearance of fluid, glucose and lactate on the serosal surface was shown to be linear over a two hour period. Addition of 5-ASA (10 mmol/l) or ADS (5 mmol/l and 10 mmol/l) caused a significant inhibition both of fluid transport (p less than 0.001), and of the appearance of glucose (p less than 0.001) and lactate (p less than 0.001 for 5 mmol/l and 10 mmol/l ADS, p less than 0.01 for 10 mmol/l 5-ASA). The uptake of glucose by rings of rat jejunum was shown to be markedly reduced by ADS. Experiments substituting glucose with either sucrose of 2-aminoisobutyric acid showed that ADS (5 mmol/l, 10 mmol/l) also inhibited the serosal appearance of fructose and the amino acid. These results show that 5-ASA and ADS, at concentrations which could be expected in the jejunum of patients receiving therapeutic doses, are able to inhibit small intestinal transport systems. The resulting increase in load on the diseased colon could be important for the pathogenesis of diarrhoea.
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