Sorbitol-based osmotic diarrhea: possible causes and mechanism of prevention investigated in rats

World J Gastroenterol. 2006 Dec 21;12(47):7635-41. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i47.7635.


Aim: To study the possible causes of sorbitol (S)-based diarrhea and its mechanism of reduction by rice gruel (RG) in cecectomized rats.

Methods: S was dissolved either in distilled water or in RG (50 g/L) and ingested as a single oral dose (1.2 g/kg body mass, containing 0.5 g/L phenol red as a recovery marker) by S (control) and S + RG groups (n = 7), respectively. This dose is over the laxative dose for humans. Animals were sacrificed exactly 1 h after dose ingestion, without any access to drinking water. The whole gastro-intestinal tract was divided into seven segments and sampled to analyze the S and marker remaining in its contents.

Results: Gastric-emptying and intestinal transit were comparatively slower in the S + RG group. Also, the S absorption index in the 3(rd) and last quarter of the small intestine (24.85 +/- 18.88% vs 0.0 +/- 0.0% and 39.09 +/- 32.75% vs 0.0 +/- 0.0%, respectively, P < 0.05) was significantly higher in the S + RG group than in the control group. The S absorption index and the intestinal fluid volume are inversely related to each other.

Conclusion: The intestinal mal-absorption of S is the main reason for S-based osmotic diarrhea. Where RG enhanced the absorption of S through passive diffusion, the degree of diarrhea was reduced in cecectomized rats.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Cathartics / pharmacology
  • Diarrhea* / chemically induced
  • Diarrhea* / diet therapy
  • Diarrhea* / prevention & control
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / chemically induced
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diet therapy
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Oryza*
  • Osmosis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sorbitol / pharmacology


  • Cathartics
  • Sorbitol