Objective: The authors examined the effects of exogenous bombesin (BBS) on gut mucosal growth in chow-fed rats and the mucosal regeneration after gut atrophy brought about by feeding an elemental diet and after intestinal injury produced by methotrexate (MTX).
Summary background data: Bombesin is one of many gastrointestinal peptides implicated in the regulation of gut mucosal growth. Although BBS is known to stimulate growth of normal pancreatic tissue, the trophic effect of BBS on gut mucosa is less clear and its exact role in gut mucosal regeneration and repair is not known.
Methods: Rats were fed a regular chow diet (control) or an elemental diet plus either saline or BBS (10 micrograms/kg). In another experiment, rats fed a chow diet and treated with saline or BBS were given MTX (20 micrograms/kg) or a single intraperitoneal injection. In all experiments, small and large bowel mucosa and pancreas were removed and analyzed for BBS-mediated proliferation.
Results: Bombesin produced significant mucosal proliferation of the small bowel at day 14, but not at day 7, in rats fed regular chow. In contrast, BBS treatment for 7 days produced significant proliferation in both the atrophic and injured gut mucosa of rats given elemental diet or MTX.
Conclusions: Bombesin may be an important enterotrophic factor for normal mucosal proliferation and may be clinically beneficial as an agent to restore or maintain gut mucosa during periods of atrophy or injury.