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September 1972

Absorptive Capacity of the Jejunum of Obese and Lean Subjects: Effect of Fasting

Author Affiliations


From New England Medical Center Hospitals and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston. Dr. Bray is now with UCLA School of Medicine, Harbor General Hospital, Torrance, Calif; Dr. Gallagher is with the University of Nebraska, Omaha; Dr. Hoffbrand is with Hammersmith Hospital, London; and Dr. Levitan is with Veterans Administration West Side Hospital and Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine, University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago.

Arch Intern Med. 1972;130(3):377-380. doi:10.1001/archinte.1972.03650030057013

The jejunum of eight obese (mean weight 139 kg [306 lb 8 oz]) and four lean subjects (mean weight, 71 kg [156 lb 8 oz]) was perfused with isotonic glucose-sodium chloride solutions containing a nonabsorbable marker polyethylene glycol and, in four subjects, also folic acid, before and after a five-day total caloric fast. Absorption of glucose, water, sodium, chloride, and folic acid and secretion of urea and potassium were determined. The absorptive capacity of the substances measured was identical in normal-weight and obese groups. After the five-day fast, the absorption of glucose, water, sodium, chloride, and folic acid and the secretion of urea declined significantly. Starvation did not alter the jejunal histological findings in three subjects in whom small bowel biopsies were done, but activities of alkaline phosphatase, sucrase, and maltase in the small bowel mucosa decreased.

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