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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2014 May;38(1 Suppl):23S-31S. doi: 10.1177/0148607114525210. Epub 2014 Feb 28.

Intestinal adaptation following resection.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois.


Intestinal adaptation is a natural compensatory process that occurs following extensive intestinal resection, whereby structural and functional changes in the intestine improve nutrient and fluid absorption in the remnant bowel. In animal studies, postresection structural adaptations include bowel lengthening and thickening and increases in villus height and crypt depth. Functional changes include increased nutrient transporter expression, accelerated crypt cell differentiation, and slowed transit time. In adult humans, data regarding adaptive changes are sparse, and the mechanisms underlying intestinal adaptation remain to be fully elucidated. Several factors influence the degree of intestinal adaptation that occurs post resection, including site and extent of resection, luminal stimulation with enteral nutrients, and intestinotrophic factors. Two intestinotrophic growth factors, the glucagon-like peptide 2 analog teduglutide and recombinant growth hormone (somatropin), are now approved for clinical use in patients with short bowel syndrome (SBS). Both agents enhance fluid absorption and decrease requirements for parenteral nutrition (PN) and/or intravenous fluid. Intestinal adaptation has been thought to be limited to the first 1-2 years following resection in humans. However, recent data suggest that a significant proportion of adult patients with SBS can achieve enteral autonomy, even after many years of PN dependence, particularly with trophic stimulation.


intestinal adaptation; intestinal resection; malabsorption; short bowel syndrome

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