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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2000 Jul-Aug;73(4):454-60.

Intestinal nutrient uptake measurements and tissue damage: validating the everted sleeves method.

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Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Erbertstrasse 1, Jena, D-07743, Germany.


The reliability of methods for nutrient uptake measurements across the intestinal epithelium relies on the integrity of the mucosal epithelium and the enterocytes. We tested effects of tissue handling during the "everted sleeves method" on the length of intestinal villi, the surface magnification, the circumference of the gut, and the thickness of the muscle layer in sunbirds (Nectarinia osea), chicken (Gallus gallus), and mice (Mus domesticus). The sunbird has thin and delicate intestinal villi that are greatly affected by the everted sleeves method. After eversion and incubation, villi lost 30% of their original length. The severe tissue damage coincides with uptake measurements for glucose that were an order of magnitude lower than in other nectar-feeding (nectarivorous) birds of similar body size. Tissue handling during the everted sleeves method had significant effects on morphometric parameters of chicken and mouse intestines, but on a light-microscopical level, the tissue integrity and the cytology of the enterocytes were not altered. Therefore, we think that the everted sleeves method renders reliable and reproducible measurements of nutrient uptake in those species. We conclude that a histological evaluation is necessary to assess the reliability of the method before it is applied to adults or to the developmental stage of any species.

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