The uptake of fluorescein-conjugated dextran 70,000 by the small intestinal epithelium of the young rat and pig in relation to macromolecular transmission into the blood

J Dev Physiol. 1988 Jun;10(3):227-33.


The macromolecular transmission from the intestinal lumen into the circulation, and its cessation (intestinal closure), were investigated in young rats and pigs in relation to the enterocytes ability to internalize macromolecules. After gavage feeding of FITC-labelled dextran 70,000 (FITC-dextran) and bovine serum albumin (BSA), the uptake of FITC-dextran into the enterocytes was examined by fluorescence microscopy, and the intestinal transmission of both markers was estimated from their blood serum concentrations. In both preclosure rats (14-days old) and piglets (newborn, unsuckled), high serum concentrations of the markers were correlated with the presence of highly fluorescent enterocytes. Although the transmission of the markers to the blood had ceased in postclosure suckling pigs (24-h old), the enterocytes showed a high fluorescence, indicating that the cellular uptake of FITC-dextran was still high. In the 6-days old piglets, only the distal part of the intestine showed uptake of FITC-dextran. In postclosure rats (21- and 30-days old) and in pigs 4-8 weeks old, no fluorescence in the enterocytes and only trace amounts of markers in the serum could be detected. These results reflect differences in the closure process between the species. In the rat, closure is likely to be due to a decrease in the endocytotic activity of the enterocytes, whereas closure in the pig is related to a cessation of the passage of internalized material into the blood (transcytosis).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood / metabolism
  • Dextrans / blood
  • Dextrans / pharmacokinetics
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate* / analogs & derivatives*
  • Fluoresceins / blood
  • Fluoresceins / pharmacokinetics
  • Intestine, Small / cytology
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains / metabolism*
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / blood
  • Swine / metabolism*


  • Dextrans
  • Fluoresceins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • fluorescein isothiocyanate dextran
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate