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Restoration of the jejunal mucosa in rats refed after prolonged fasting.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre d'Ecologie et de Physiologie Energ├ętiques, 23 rue Becquerel, F-67087 Cedex 2, Strasbourg, France.


To investigate the importance of body fuel depletion on gut rehabilitation after food deprivation, we compared the kinetics of jejunal mucosa alteration and restoration in rats that were refed after reaching different stages in body fuel depletion. Rats (P2) were refed while still in the so-called phase II, where body protein utilization is minimized, whereas rats (P3) were refed when they had reached the stage of increasing protein utilization (phase III). There was a significant decrease in total mass of intestine (P2, -30%; P3, -40%) and jejunal mucosa (P2, -52%; P3, -60%), as well in the size of the crypts (P2, -15%; P3, -36%) and villi (P2, -37%; P3, -55%). Structural changes of the mucosa included disappearance of some villi and a reduction in the size and number of crypts. Despite the larger morphological alterations in P3, the restoration of mucosa was as fast and complete after only 3 days of refeeding for both P2 and P3 rats. The respective roles of the mitosis pressure and of the lamina propria dynamics were studied. The rapid reversibility of the gut mucosal alterations due to fasting might constitute an integrative process.

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