Sepsis has been shown to adversely affect the barrier and metabolic functions of the small intestine as well as to reduce mesenteric blood flow and cause histologic damage. However, the effect of sepsis on gut absorptive function has been largely ignored. In this study, intestinal absorption of arginine and an amino acid analogue, aminoisobutyric acid, was studied using in vivo and in vitro techniques in an experimental model of sepsis. In vivo studies showed a significant impairment in the absorption of both amino acids from the intestinal lumen 24 and 72 hours after cecal ligation and puncture. Uptake of these amino acids by everted gut sacs prepared from septic animals was also significantly reduced. This reduction in absorptive capacity of the gut may limit the ability of enteral feeding alone to supply nutritional requirements during sepsis and may also contribute to the associated morbidity and mortality.
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