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Does dietary fibre stimulate intestinal epithelial cell proliferation in germ free rats?
  1. R A Goodlad,
  2. B Ratcliffe,
  3. J P Fordham,
  4. N A Wright
  1. Department of Histopathology, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London.


    The aim of the present experiment was to investigate the role of hind gut fermentation in the proliferative response of the intestinal epithelium to dietary fibre. We have previously shown that refeeding starved rats with an elemental diet supplemented with fermentable dietary fibre (but not inert bulk) is capable of stimulating intestinal epithelial cell proliferation throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Three groups of 10 germ free (GF) rats and three groups of 10 conventional (CV) rats, were used. All groups were starved for three days and then refed for two days with either an elemental diet (Flexical); Flexical plus 30% kaolin; or Flexical plus 30% of a fibre mixture. Cell production was determined by the accumulation of vincristine arrested metaphases in microdissected crypts. There was no significant difference between refeeding the rats with an elemental diet alone or with kaolin supplementation, however, the addition of fibre in CV rats was associated with a significant increase in intestinal crypt cell production rate in both the small intestine (p less than 0.01) and the colon (p less than 0.001). This marked proliferative effects of fibre was abolished in the GF rats. It can be concluded that it is the products of hind gut fermentation, not fibre per se that stimulate intestinal epithelial cell proliferation in the colon and small intestine.

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