Validation of polyethylene glycol 3350 as a poorly absorbable marker for intestinal perfusion studies

Dig Dis Sci. 1997 Jan;42(1):1-5. doi: 10.1023/a:1018863032425.


Polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been used as a poorly absorbable marker in intestinal perfusion studies, but there is controversy about the absorbability of PEG, particularly when glucose-sodium cotransport is occurring. Total intestinal perfusion studies were done in five normal humans using three solutions containing 1 g/liter PEG 3350 and designed to produce low rates of water absorption, high rates of water absorption, or high rates of glucose-sodium cotransport. Water absorption rates were calculated by traditional nonabsorbable marker equations and by a novel balance technique in which absorption was taken as the difference between the volumes of solution infused and recovered during steady-state conditions. Effluent PEG recovery was 99 +/- 4%, 109 +/- 2%, and 104 +/- 6% of the amount infused with each solution. Water absorption rates measured by use of PEG concentrations were similar to those calculated by the balance technique (r = 0.99). The complete recovery of PEG confirms the poor absorbability of PEG 3350, and the excellent agreement between techniques validates PEG as a poorly absorbed marker, even when glucose-sodium cotransport is occurring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Transport
  • Glucose / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Hypotonic Solutions / pharmacokinetics
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Mannitol / pharmacokinetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Weight
  • Polyethylene Glycols* / pharmacokinetics
  • Water / metabolism


  • Hypotonic Solutions
  • Water
  • Mannitol
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Glucose