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Am J Vet Res. 2003 Apr;64(4):404-12.

Effects of hydrochloric, acetic, butyric, and propionic acids on pathogenesis of ulcers in the nonglandular portion of the stomach of horses.

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Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.



To identify the pathogenesis of gastric ulcers by comparing injury to the nonglandular gastric mucosa of horses caused by hydrochloric acid (HCl) or volatile fatty acids (VFAs).


Gastric tissues from 30 horses.


Nonglandular gastric mucosa was studied by use of Ussing chambers. Short-circuit current (Isc) and potential difference were measured and electrical resistance calculated for tissues after addition of HCl and VFAs to normal Ringer's solution (NRS). Tissues were examined histologically.


Mucosa exposed to HCl in NRS (pH, 1.5) had a significant decrease in Isc, compared with Isc for mucosa exposed to NRS at pH 4.0 or 7.0. Also, exposure to 60mM acetic, propionic, and butyric acids (pH, 4.0 or 1.5) caused an immediate significant decrease in Isc. Recovery of sodium transport was detected only in samples exposed to acetic acid at pH 4.0. Recovery of sodium transport was not seen in other mucosal samples exposed to VFAs at pH < or = 4.0.


Acetic, butyric, and propionic acids and, to a lesser extent, HCl caused decreases in mucosal barrier function of the nonglandular portion of the equine stomach. Because of their lipid solubility at pH < or = 4.0, undissociated VFAs penetrate cells in the nonglandular gastric mucosa, which causes acidification of cellular contents, inhibition of sodium transport, and cellular swelling. Results indicate that HCl alone or in combination with VFAs at gastric pH < or = 4.0 may be important in the pathogenesis of gastric ulcers in the nonglandular portion of the stomach of horses.

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