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J Comp Physiol B. 2003 Apr;173(3):187-97. Epub 2003 Feb 22.

Intestinal passive absorption of water-soluble compounds by sparrows: effect of molecular size and luminal nutrients.

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Departamento de Bioquímica y Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Nacional de San Luis, Casilla de Correos 226, 5700 San Luis, Argentina.


We tested predictions that: (1) absorption of water-soluble probes decreases with increasing molecular size, consistent with movement through effective pores in epithelia, and (2) absorption of probes is enhanced when measured in the presence of luminal nutrients, as predicted for paracellular solvent drag. Probes (L-arabinose, L-rhamnose, perseitol, lactulose; MW 150.1-342.3 Da) were gavaged in nonanesthetized House sparrows ( Passer domesticus), or injected into the pectoralis, and serially measured in plasma. Bioavailability was calculated as F=AUC by gavage/AUC by injection, where AUC is the area under the curve of plasma probe concentration vs. time. Consistent with predictions, F declined with probe size by 75% from the smallest to the largest probe, and absorption of probes increased by 40% in the presence of luminal glucose or food compared to a mannitol control. Absorption of water-soluble probes by sparrows is much higher than in humans, which is much higher than in rats. These differences seem mainly attributable to differences in paracellular solvent flux and less to differences in effective paracellular pore size.

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