Porcine intestinal ammonia liberation. Influence of food intake, lactulose and neomycin treatment

J Hepatol. 1988 Oct;7(2):250-7. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8278(88)80489-6.


Lactulose and neomycin have, besides influencing ammonia production of the intestinal flora, been proposed to reduce glutamine-dependent ammonia formation. To test this hypothesis we determined the effects of lactulose and neomycin on the release or uptake of ammonia, urea, and amino acids across the intestine of freely moving healthy pigs. Blood was sampled from catheterized piglets (20 +/- 0.8 kg; n = 6) before and 1, 2, 3, and 6 h after a standard pig meal (750 g, 12% protein). After a week of lactulose (Legendal; 2 x 60 g/day) or neomycin (8 g/day) treatment this procedure was repeated. Electromagnetic portal and small bowel flow measurements were carried out in separate groups of pigs. Flow measurements were independent of the kind of food ingested. No significant alterations in flow could be detected during the 6 h study period. Portal and porto-arterial ammonia differences were significantly decreased after lactulose (-20%) and neomycin (-35%) treatment. alpha-Amino-nitrogen absorption decreased in both groups as compared to controls, but this decrease did not reach significance. Systemic and portal glutamine levels as well as intestinal glutamine utilization were significantly lower in the treatment groups. Citrulline and glutamate levels and intestinal production decreased after treatment. In this in vivo model, ammonia liberation after protein meals decreased in animals pretreated with lactulose or neomycin. The decreased systemic and consequently intestinal glutamine utilization may contribute to a reduction of endogenous ammonia formation in the gut wall. Diminished absorption from the gut of alpha-amino-nitrogen may, however, also contribute to a decrease in ammonia production.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Alanine / blood
  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Ammonia / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Citrulline / blood
  • Disaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Glutamates / blood
  • Glutamine / blood
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Lactulose / pharmacology*
  • Neomycin / pharmacology*
  • Swine
  • Urea / analysis


  • Amino Acids
  • Disaccharides
  • Glutamates
  • Glutamine
  • Citrulline
  • Lactulose
  • Ammonia
  • Urea
  • Neomycin
  • Alanine