Induction of precocious intestinal maturation in T-cell deficient athymic neonatal rats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim: To investigate whether gut maturation could be induced precociously in an athymic T-cell deficient neonatal rat model. Methods: Fourteen day-old athymic (nude) rats (NIH-Foxn 1rnu) were gavaged with either phytohaemagglutinin - a lectin from red kidney beans (PHA); trypsin - a protease (Prot); or water - vehicle (control) as a single dose on one day or once a day for 3-day. The nude rats were either nurtured by their mothers or cross-fostered by conventional foster dams of the Sprague-Dawley strain from days 3-5 after birth. At 17 d of age, 72 h after administration of the first treatment, intestinal macromolecular permeability was tested in vivo, prior to euthanasia, after which blood and gut organs were sampled. Results: Provocation with both, PHA and protease, resulted in increased gut growth and maturation in nude rat pups independent of nursing. Foetal-type enterocytes were replaced by non-vacuolated adult-type enterocytes in the distal small intestine epithelium. Decreased intestinal macromolecular permeability (gut closure) was observed, with reduced permeability markers (BIgG and BSA, P < 0.001) in circulation. Increased pancreatic function, with an increased trypsin to protein ratio in pancreas homogenates, was observed independent of nursing in the nude pups. Immunostaining showed the presence of a few CD3+-cells in the intestinal mucosa of the nude pups. The number of CD3+-cells remained unaltered by provocation and no differences were observed between the nursing sets. Growth and vitality of the nude pups were dependent on nurturing, since cross-fostering by conventional dams increased their macromolecular absorptive capacity (BSA, P < 0.05), as well as their passive immunity (RIgG, P < 0.05). Conclusion: Precocious gut maturation can be induced by enteral provocation in athymic rat pups, similarly to in euthymic pups, thus showing an independence from thymusderived T-cells.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology


  • Gut, Immunoglobulin G, Intestinal permeability, Pancreas, Passive immunity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7531-7540
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 14
Publication categoryResearch