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J Nutr. 2005 Nov;135(11):2657-63.

The intestinal trophic response to enteral food is reduced in parenterally fed preterm pigs and is associated with more nitrergic neurons.

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  • 1Laboratory of Veterinary Anatomy and Embryology, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Antwerp, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium.


In term neonates, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) induces mucosal atrophy, whereas the first intake of milk is followed by intestinal growth. This may be explained in part by an NO-mediated increased blood flow. We hypothesized that the immature gut has an altered response to TPN and enteral nutrition. In Expt. 1, preterm caesarean-delivered pigs were administered elemental nutrients for 3 d, infused parenterally (TPN, n = 7) or enterally (TENT, n = 7). In Expt. 2, preterm pigs were fed sow's colostrum, cow's colostrum, or infant formula for 2 d after a 3-d TPN period (TPN-SOW, TPN-COW, TPN-FORM, n = 8-11). Intestinal morphology and the number of enteric neurons containing nitric oxide synthase-1 (NOS-1) were quantified. Both the TPN and TENT groups had increases in intestinal mass, circumference, and mucosal mass, volume, and surface density, relative to values at birth (+30-50%, P < 0.05). In Expt. 2, the magnitudes of the intestinal trophic responses to feeding were similar to those in Expt. 1, but were also associated with an increased number of nitrergic myenteric neurons and some mucosal damage, most frequently observed for the formula group. We conclude that 1) a short period of TPN does not induce mucosal atrophy in preterm pigs, whereas elemental nutrients infused luminally do not mimic the trophic response seen with milk diets, 2) enteral feeding of preterm pigs after a short period of TPN is associated with a modest, diet-dependent trophic response that may be related in part to the actions of an increased population of enteric NOS-1 neurons.

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