Early effects on the intestinal barrier and pancreatic function after enteral stimulation with protease or kidney bean lectin in neonatal rats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Gut maturation naturally accelerates at weaning in altricial mammalian species, such as the rat. Mimicking this, gut development can also be induced precociously, 3–4 d earlier than it would occur naturally, by enteral exposure to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), or various proteases. We investigated the early effects of gut provocation on intestinal barrier and pancreatic functions, to get a better understanding of the mechanisms that initiate gut maturation. The effects of oral administration of protease (trypsin) or PHA to 14-d-old suckling rats were studied during 24 h in comparison with water-fed controls. Intestinal in vivo permeability was assessed by oral administration of different-sized marker molecules and measuring their passage into the blood or urine 3 h later. A period of 24 h following oral administration, both PHA and protease provocation stimulated small intestinal (SI) growth and pancreatic secretion, as indicated by decreased pancreatic trypsin and increased luminal enzyme content. Within 1 h of oral administration, both treatments prevented the absorption of macromolecules to blood that was observed in controls. PHA treatment hindered the passage of fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran (FD) 4 to blood, whereas protease treatment temporarily increased plasma levels of FD4, and the urine lactulose:mannitol ratio, indicating increased intestinal leakiness. Following protease treatment, fluorescence microscopy showed decreased vesicular uptake of FD70 in the proximal SI and increased epithelial fluorescence in the distal SI. In conclusion, PHA and protease differed in their early effects on the intestinal barrier; both exerted a blocking effect on epithelial endocytosis, whereas protease treatment alone temporarily increased epithelial leakiness, which seemed to be confined to the distal SI.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1002
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number9
Early online date2018 Feb 19
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch