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J Surg Res. 1998 Jan;74(1):34-8.

Endotoxin temporarily impairs canine colonic absorption of water and sodium.

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Surgical Service, VAMC, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.


Diarrhea is a common manifestation of sepsis. We hypothesized that endotoxin may impair colonic absorption of water and electrolytes, an effect which may be related to altered liquid transit in the colon. Five dogs underwent construction of 50-cm colonic Thiry-Vella fistulas (TVF). Following recovery, absorption studies were performed by perfusing the TVF with an isotonic solution at 2.9 ml/min containing polyethylene glycol (5 g/L). Fasting and postprandial colonic absorption of water, electrolytes, and glucose were determined. Liquid transit was assessed by bolus of a nonabsorbable marker (PSP) instilled into the proximal end of the TVF. Following completion of the baseline studies, each dog was given a single dose of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide 200 micrograms/kg i.v. and the studies were repeated daily for the next 3 days. Following endotoxin bolus, colonic absorption of water and sodium were decreased during fasting, while postprandial colonic absorption of water was also decreased. Colonic absorption of water and sodium returned to baseline values on postendotoxin day 2. Colonic secretion of potassium was decreased on postendotoxin days 1 and 3 in both the fasting and the fed periods. Fasting and postprandial liquid transit was also rapid on postendotoxin day 1, which correlated with the decreased absorption seen on that day. Liquid transit returned to baseline values on postendotoxin day 2. We conclude that endotoxin temporarily impairs postprandial colonic absorption, which may be due to the rapid liquid transit that occurs. These effects may contribute to the diarrhea seen during and after septic episodes.

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