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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Aug;57(8):1017-24.

Gastrointestinal handling of glycosyl [13C]ureides.

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  • 1Department of Child Health, University of Glasgow, Yorkhill Hospitals, Glasgow, G3 8SJ UK.



Lactose [(13)C]ureide has been proposed as a noninvasive marker for oro-caecal transit time in adults and children. The present study investigates the handling of lactose [(13)C]ureide ((13)C LU) and glucose [(13)C]ureide ((13)C GU) by the gastrointestinal tract and describes the metabolic fates of these substrates and describes the extent of tracer excretion by different routes.


Four subjects underwent five studies in which they ingested a test meal plus (1) no substrate, (2) (13)C LU, (3) (13)C GU, (4) (13)C LU after predosing with unlabelled lactose ureide and (5) (13)C LU after predosing with glucose ureide. Subjects were studied at home with at least 1 week between tests and they all completed the study. Breath was analysed for (13)CO(2) recovery and urine was analysed for total (13)C recovery, (13)C urea recovery and (13)C GU recovery.


The profiles and extent of tracer recovery in breath and urine were similar when either (13)C GU or (13)C LU was used, suggesting similar handling of these substrates by the gut. (13)C GU was the major (13)C-enriched species recovered in the urine even when (13)C LU was consumed. Predosing with either lactose ureide or glucose ureide increased the rate of appearance of tracer, but did not alter transit times.


(13)C LU is hydrolysed to (13)C GU in the small intestine with the fraction of (13)C GU appearing in the urine probably limited by small intestinal permeability. Either (13)C LU or (13)C GU can be used to measure oro-caecal transit time.

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