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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 Dec 6;1115(2):174-9.

The rheology of pig small intestinal and colonic mucus: weakening of gel structure by non-mucin components.

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Department of Physiological Sciences, Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.


Mechanical spectroscopy has been used to study the structure and properties of pig small intestinal and colonic adherent mucus gel. Both mucus secretions had properties of viscoelastic gels, but that from the small intestine was substantially weaker in quality. Small intestinal mucus gel was disrupted by acid (pH 1), detergents (bile) and protein denaturants while that from the colon remained stable following these treatments. Concentration of purified colonic mucin produced a gel with the same rheological properties as the native secretion. Purified small intestinal mucin when concentrated produced a stronger gel than the native secretion and, in contrast to the latter, one which was not disrupted by acid or denaturants. The instability of native small intestinal mucus was shown not to be a function of the mucin components (which alone could account for the gel-forming properties), but to arise from the presence of insoluble material largely from sloughed mucosal cells. These studies show (1) that mucus gels from the colon and small intestine have similar mechanical behaviour and properties to those from the stomach and duodenum, and (2) emphasise the caution that should be exercised when interpreting the rheological properties of mucus preparations, particularly with respect to their content of mucosal cellular material.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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