Parenteral nutrition supplemented with short-chain fatty acids: effect on the small-bowel mucosa in normal rats

Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 Apr;51(4):685-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/51.4.685.


When enteral nutrition is excluded from animals maintained solely with total parenteral nutrition (TPN), atrophy of the intestinal mucosa is observed. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced in the colon by the fermentation of dietary carbohydrates and fiber polysaccharides and have been shown to stimulate mucosal-cell mitotic activity in the intestine. This study compared the effects of an intravenous and an intracecal infusion of SCFAs on the small-bowel mucosa. Rats received standard TPN, TPN with SCFAs (sodium acetate, propionate, and butyrate), TPN with an intracecal infusion of SCFAs, or rat food. After 7 d jejunal and ileal mucosal weights, DNA, RNA, and protein were determined. Standard TPN produced significant atrophy of the jejunal and ileal mucosa. Both the intracecal and intravenous infusion of SCFAs significantly reduced the mucosal atrophy associated with TPN. The intravenous and intracolonic infusion of SCFAs were equally effective in inhibiting small-bowel mucosal atrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrophy / chemically induced
  • Atrophy / prevention & control
  • Body Weight
  • Cecum
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / administration & dosage*
  • Ileum / drug effects
  • Ileum / metabolism
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Intestine, Small / pathology
  • Jejunum / drug effects
  • Jejunum / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Proteins
  • RNA
  • DNA