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Modification of small bowel mechanosensitivity by intestinal fat
  1. A M Accarino,
  2. F Azpiroz,
  3. J-R Malagelada
  1. Digestive System Research Unit, Hospital General Vall d'Hebron, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Dr F Azpiroz, Digestive System Research Unit, Hospital General Vall d'Hebron, 08035-Barcelona, Spain. azpirozf{at}


BACKGROUND Lipids may exacerbate symptoms induced by gut stimuli.

AIM To determine the mechanism whereby fat exerts this effect.

SUBJECTS Twenty four healthy subjects were studied during fasting.

METHODS We measured perception (0–6 scale) in response to jejunal balloon distension and transmucosal electrical nerve stimulation; phasic stimuli (one minute) were randomly applied at five minute intervals during intestinal infusion (2 ml/min) of saline and then Intralipid 2 kcal/min (high fat; n=8 subjects), Intralipid 0.5 kcal/min (low fat; n=8), or saline (n=8).

RESULTS Intestinal lipids increased the perception of jejunal distension regardless of concentration (by 53% with high fat, 49% with low fat, and 17% with saline; p<0.05 for both fat loads). This effect could not be attributed to changes in intestinal compliance as intraballoon pressures remained unchanged during lipid infusion (2% change; NS). Sensitisation induced by lipids seemed to be specifically related to intestinal mechanoreceptors because electrical stimulation, which non-specifically activates gut afferents, was perceived equally during saline and lipid administration (10%, 11%, and 15% change during high fat, low fat, and saline, respectively; NS).

CONCLUSION Physiological amounts of lipids heighten intestinal sensitivity by modulating intestinal mechanoreceptor response.

  • intestinal sensitivity
  • intestinal distension
  • intestinal electrical nerve stimulation
  • intestinal afferents
  • abdominal symptoms

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