Intestinal brush-border membrane enzyme activities and transport functions during prenatal development of pigs

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1996 Jul;23(1):51-64. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199607000-00010.


Enzyme activities and rates of leucine and glucose uptake were measured using brush-border membrane vesicles prepared from the small intestine of 7-, 8-, 10-, and 12-week fetal (43, 49, 61, and 74% of gestation) and unsuckled, neonatal pigs. Lactase was detected in 7-week fetuses, with a large increase in activity between 10 weeks of gestation and birth. gamma-Glutamyltranspeptidase activity was stable throughout gestation, whereas sucrase activity was not detected. Active L-leucine uptake was already present at 7 weeks of gestation, with an increasing distal-to-proximal gradient observed at birth. D-glucose uptake was low at 7 weeks, but by 8 weeks it exhibited a typical overshoot phenomenon and established a decreasing proximal-to-distal gradient by 12 weeks. D-glucose uptake at all ages was directly related to incubation temperature, but less so for 7- and 10-week fetuses. By 12 weeks strict Na(+)-dependency of D-glucose uptake was observed along the entire length of the small intestine. Kinetic analysis of Na(+)-D-glucose cotransport showed a shift from the presence of both high- and low-affinity systems at 8 weeks of gestation to a single high-affinity Michaelian component at birth. In light of similarities with human fetuses, the pig may be a valuable model for studying development of intestinal transport during gestation, particularly during the final trimester, when availability of human tissue is limited.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Hexokinase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small* / embryology
  • Intestine, Small* / enzymology
  • Intestine, Small* / metabolism
  • Intestine, Small* / ultrastructure
  • Lactase
  • Leucine / metabolism
  • Microvilli / enzymology
  • Microvilli / metabolism
  • Organ Size
  • Pregnancy
  • Sucrase / metabolism
  • Swine / embryology
  • Time Factors
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / metabolism


  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Hexokinase
  • Lactase
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Sucrase
  • Leucine
  • Glucose