The variable gastric emptying rate of a test meal is one of the major problems in evaluating accurately gastrointestinal physiological functions beyond the stomach. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the gastric emptying rate on the rate of intraluminal lipolysis. Thirty four subjects without pancreatic disease (21 with a normal gastric emptying and 13 with a known slow gastric emptying) and 14 subjects with pancreatic disease (four without and 10 with pancreatic insufficiency) were studied using a dual labelled breath test. The test meal consisted of one egg, 60 grams of white bread, 10 grams of margarine, and 150 ml of water (350 kcal). The egg yolk was labelled with 91 mg of 13C-octanoic acid, the margarine was labelled with 296 kBq of distearyl-2-14C-octanoyl-glycerol. Breath samples were taken every 15 minutes during six hours and analysed for 13CO2 and 14CO2 content. The gastric emptying rate of the meal was evaluated by the gastric emptying coefficient, the half emptying time, and the lag phase; the rate of intraluminal lipolysis was evaluated by the six hours cumulative 14CO2 excretion. Despite a clear distinction in the rate of intraluminal lipolysis, no difference could be detected in gastric emptying rate of the test meal between subjects without and with pancreatic disease. In subjects with pancreatic insufficiency, intraluminal hydrolysis was the rate limiting process in fat assimilation; in patients without pancreatic insufficiency, however, gastric emptying could be rate limiting. Therefore, patients with known slow gastric emptying, displayed a significantly decreased rate of intraluminal lipolysis compared with normal controls. This decrease could be corrected for accurately using a correction factor based on the gastric emptying coefficient. In conclusion, the combined 13C-octanoic acid and 14C-mixed triglyceride breath test permits the measurement of gastric emptying rate and intraluminal lipolysis simultaneously in a minimally invasive way. Correction of intraluminal lipolysis rate for gastric emptying rate of the given test meal permits evaluation of fat assimilation rates in a physiological way regardless of gastric emptying disorders.
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