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Pediatr Res. 1996 Oct;40(4):533-41.

Intestinal transport of calcium in rat biliary cirrhosis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


The characteristics of intestinal calcium transport in chronic cholestasis remain largely unknown. Using an experimental model of biliary cirrhosis in the rat, we aimed to investigate changes in calcium transport at the jejunal and ileal levels. Two methods were used: 1) uptake of 45Ca in brush border membrane vesicles and 2) measurements of transepithelial fluxes of calcium in Ussing chambers. Thirty days postsurgery, cholestatic rats presented biliary cirrhosis, with normal growth, normal daily energy, and calcium intakes, but had depressed circulating levels of 25-(OH)-vitamin D2 and 1,25-(OH)-vitamin D3. Compared with sham-operated controls, 45Ca uptake ([Ca2+] = 0.03 mmol) measured in vesicles from cholestatic rats was decreased by 3-fold in the duodenojejunum, in concordance with a lower content in brush border membrane calmodulin. Other changes in brush border membrane composition included decreases in structural proteins, microvillous enzymes, and in triglyceride content. Transepithelial fluxes of calcium measured in the ileum ([Ca2+] = 1.2 mmol) revealed in controls a net basal secretion flux (Jnet = -30.4 +/- 8.1 that was reduced by 3-fold (p < 0.05) in vitamin D-deficient rats (Jnet = -10.4 +/- 4.8 In response to 25-(OH)-vitamin D2 treatment, calcium uptake rates increased by 40% in the jejunum, whereas in the ileum, the secretion flux returned to basal control levels. Oral administration of taurocholate or tauroursodeoxycholate (50 mmol) depressed almost completely calcium uptake capacity in the duodenojejunum. By complexing free calcium, tauroconjugated bile acids inhibited in vitro calcium uptake proportionally to their concentration in the medium (0-40 mmol). Our data indicate that, in rat biliary cirrhosis, transport capacity of calcium in the duodenojejunum is markedly reduced in association with vitamin D deficiency and alterations in brush border membrane composition.

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