Oral insulin increases small intestinal mass and disaccharidase activity in the newborn miniature pig

Pediatr Res. 1990 Aug;28(2):171-5. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199008000-00018.


Factors, such as insulin, found in human and pig colostrum and mature milk likely influence small intestinal growth and development. Although pharmacologic doses of insulin injected parenterally may accelerate small intestinal development in altricial animals such as the rodent, the effects of oral insulin on intestinal development have not been studied. In the first of two studies, we randomized 2-d-old miniature piglets to receive bottle-feedings of a swine weaning milk formula with (group F + I) or without (group F) the addition of insulin. Serum glucose, insulin, and cortisol were measured before and 1 h after the first feeding the piglets received at our facility. In the second study, piglets were randomized (groups F and F + I) and fed for 6 d, after which blood samples were obtained as in the first experiment. The piglets were then killed and the small intestine removed for analysis. We found no differences between groups in serum glucose, insulin, and cortisol at both 2 and 8 d of age, both before and after feeding. In the second experiment, small intestinal weight was greater in the F + I than in the F group. Although no differences were noted between groups in the jejunum, values were greater for group F + I versus group F for ileal mucosal weight, protein, RNA, lactase, and maltase activities. No differences were found between groups in ileal DNA or sucrase activity. We conclude that the administration of oral insulin stimulated an increase in ileal mass and disaccharidase activity in the newborn miniature pig without apparent concomitant changes in serum glucose, insulin, or cortisol.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Colostrum / metabolism
  • Disaccharidases / metabolism*
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / growth & development
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature
  • alpha-Glucosidases / metabolism
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • RNA
  • Disaccharidases
  • alpha-Glucosidases
  • beta-Galactosidase