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J Mol Histol. 2011 Feb;42(1):27-38. doi: 10.1007/s10735-010-9304-4. Epub 2010 Nov 28.

Density distribution of free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFA2)-expressing and GLP-1-producing enteroendocrine L cells in human and rat lower intestine, and increased cell numbers after ingestion of fructo-oligosaccharide.

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Laboratory of Physiology, Graduate School of Nutritional and Environmental Sciences, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Suruga-ku, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan.


Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a multifunctional hormone in glucose metabolism and intestinal function released by enteroendocrine L-cells. The plasma concentration of GLP-1 is increased by indigestible carbohydrates and luminal infusion of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). However, the triggers and modulators of the GLP-1 release remain unclear. We hypothesized that SCFAs produced by bacterial fermentation are involved in enteroendocrine cell proliferation and hormone release through free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFA2, also known as FFAR2 or GPR43) in the large intestine. Fructo-oligosaccharide (Fructo-OS), fermentable indigestible carbohydrate, was used as a source of SCFAs. Rats were fed an indigestible-carbohydrate-free diet (control) or a 5% Fructo-OS-containing diet for 28 days. FFA2-, GLP-1-, and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)-positive enteroendocrine cells were quantified immunohistochemically in the colon, cecum, and terminal ileum. The same analysis was performed in surgical specimens from human lower intestine. The coexpression of FFA2 with GLP-1 was investigated both in rats and humans. Fructo-OS supplementation in rats increased the densities of FFA2-positive enteroendocrine cells in rat proximal colon, by over two-fold, relative to control, in parallel with GLP-1-containing L-cells. The segmental distributions of these cells in human were similar to rats fed the control diet. The FFA2-positive enteroendocrine cells were GLP-1-containing L-cells, but not 5-HT-containing EC cells, in both human and rat colon and terminal ileum. Fermentable indigestible carbohydrate increases the number of FFA2-positive L-cells in the proximal colon. FFA2 activation by SCFAs might be an important trigger for produce and release GLP-1 by enteroendocrine L-cells in the lower intestine.

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