Vitamin A deficiency inhibits intestinal adaptation by modulating apoptosis, proliferation, and enterocyte migration

Deborah A. Swartz-Basile, Lihua Wang, Yuzhu Tang, Henry A. Pitt, Deborah C. Rubin, Marc S. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


In a prior study, vitamin A-deficient rats subjected to submassive small bowel resections did not mount a normal intestinal adaptive response by 10 days postoperatively, although adaptive increases in crypt cell proliferation were not attenuated and there were no differences in apoptotic indexes. The present study was designed to address the mechanisms by which vitamin A status effects adaptation by analyzing proliferation, apoptosis, and enterocyte migration in the early postoperative period (16 and 48 h) in vitamin A-sufficient, -deficient, and partially replenished sham-resected and resected rats. At 16 h postresection, apoptosis was significantly greater in the remnant ileum of resected vitamin A-deficient rats compared with the sufficient controls. Crypt cell proliferation was increased by resection in all dietary groups at both timepoints. However, at 48 h postresection, proliferation was significantly decreased in the vitamin A-deficient and partially replenished rats. By 48 h after resection, vitamin A deficiency also reduced enterocyte migration rates by 44%. This occurred in conjunction with decreased immunoreactive collagen IV at 48 h and 10 days postoperation. Laminin expression was also reduced by deficiency at 10 days postresection, whereas fibronectin and pancadherin were unchanged at 48 h and 10 days. These studies indicate that vitamin A deficiency inhibits intestinal adaptation following partial small bowel resection by reducing crypt cell proliferation, by enhancing early crypt cell apoptosis, and by markedly reducing enterocyte migration rates, which may be related to changes in the expression of collagen IV and other extracellular matrix components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G424-G432
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number2 48-2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Extracellular matrix
  • Rats
  • Retinoids
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Small intestinal resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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