Background: The specific purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) on intestinal cell proliferation and mucous secretion of the small intestine in the rat.
Methods: Rats were fed chow diet and given MCTs or the same weight of corn oil (5 g/kg per day) by gavage daily for 2 weeks, and then tissue samples of the small intestines were harvested. Leptin concentration in the small intestine was measured. Cell proliferation and apoptosis in the small intestine was determined by immunohistochemistry. Diamine oxidase (DAO) activity was measured by colorimetric assay.
Results: In rats fed only chow diet (normal rats), the number of goblet cells per villi was 14.2 +/- 0.75 in the jejunum and 15.2 +/- 1.12 in the ileum. The number of goblet cells increased significantly in rats given MCTs compared with rats given corn oil or normal rats. Ki-67-positive cells were detected on the entire villi and the crypts in the small intestine. Furthermore, the proliferative index and the apoptotic index were also significantly greater in rats given MCTs than rats given corn oil or normal rats. Moreover, DAO activity and leptin concentration in the small intestine were significantly greater in rats given MCTs than rats given corn oil or normal rats.
Conclusions: MCTs enhance cell proliferation of the intestinal epithelium and mucous secretion from goblet cells in the small intestine. These effects may protect the gut in patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease or enterogenous infection.