Enteral and Parenteral Feeding to Evaluate Malabsorption in Intestinal Parasitism

Gilbert A. CastroDepartments of Physiology, Surgery, and Medicine, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030

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E. M. CopelandDepartments of Physiology, Surgery, and Medicine, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030

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S. J. DudrickDepartments of Physiology, Surgery, and Medicine, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030

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K. RamaswamyDepartments of Physiology, Surgery, and Medicine, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030

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General evidence of malnutrition such as loss in body weight associated with intestinal parasitism has been attributed to decreased food intake, to intestinal malabsorption, and to changes in host basal metabolism. To establish the relative importance of these factors in this regard, rats with trichinosis were studied. The weights of infected and uninfected animals were followed after being placed on one of three feeding regimens for 1 week—stock diet ad libitum, intraduodenal nutrition, and intravenous nutrition. Infected rats on a stock diet lost weight whereas those on the other two regimens maintained the same weight pattern as uninfected counterparts. The maintenance of body weight occurred despite alterations at the level of the intestinal brush border as indicated by a depression of intestinal disaccharidase activities (sucrase and lactase) and by reduction of monosaccharide absorption (measured as accumulation of β-methyl glucoside) in the proximal, heavily infected region of the small intestine. There was no compensatory increase in enzyme activity nor in the absorptive capacity in the distal gut. Results support the conclusion that inadequate oral food intake rather than changes in basal metabolism or intestinal pathophysiology accounts for weight loss during the intestinal phase of infection.

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