Physiological measurement of luminal stirring in perfused rat jejunum

B. W. Anderson, Allen S Levine, David G Levitt, J. M. Kneip, Michael D Levitt

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39 Scopus citations


Poor stirring of intestinal contents yields a preepithelial diffusion barrier that is thought to be the rate-limiting step in absorption of many compounds. In many previous studies, the resistance of this barrier is equal to an unstirred water layer of 300-800 μm. Using three probes, CO, glucose, and [14C]warfarin, we measured the preepithelial resistance in a 30-cm segment in rats that were 1) conscious, 2) anesthetized with pentobarbital sodium, or 3) anesthetized and laparotomized. Measurements with each of the probes showed that the maximal preepithelial resistance in conscious rats was equivalent to an unstirred layer of only ~ 100 μm. Anesthesia roughly doubled this resistance, and anesthesia and laparotomy caused a sixfold increase (unstirred layer of ~ 600 μm). We conclude that the luminal stirring is much more efficient than previously has been appreciated. The very thick jejunal unstirred layers reported previously (300-800 μm) reflect the results of studies performed under nonphysiological conditions or studies employing inappropriate techniques to measure luminal stirring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988


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