Free Access
Reprod. Nutr. Dev.
Volume 44, Number 4, July-August 2004
Page(s) 353 - 364
Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 44 (2004) 353-364
DOI: 10.1051/rnd:2004040

Short-term effects of spermine ingestion on the small intestine: a comparison of suckling and weaned rats

Olivier Peulen, Patricia Deloyer and Guy Dandrifosse

Department of Biochemistry and general Physiology, University of Liege, Institute of Chemistry B6c, 4000 Sart-Tilman, Belgium

(Received 18 November 2003; accepted 7 April 2004)

Abstract - We have previously shown that spermine, shortly after its ingestion, can induce the alteration of the morphology of the small intestine of suckling rats. It was proposed that this alteration is due to polyamine accumulation inside the epithelial cells. This could also be related to the fact that the intestine of the suckling rat is in an immature state. To shed light on this issue, disaccharidase and alkaline phosphatase activity assays, protein, DNA and RNA content measurements and polyamine concentration analysis were performed on the small intestine of suckling and weaned Wistar rats treated with spermine. Spermine did not induce the same intestinal alterations in weaned rats compared to suckling animals. Indeed, in sucklings, spermine administration induced a decrease of the protein, DNA, putrescine and spermidine intestinal content, suggesting a cell loss. The cell loss impaired the activity of intestinal enzymes: lactase, maltase and alkaline phosphatase. In weaned rats, the same treatment did not alter these parameters. Exogenous spermine by itself is not sufficient to induce the alterations described here and previously. The maturity degree of the small intestine could be the basis of this process.

Key words: spermine / suckling rat / weaned rat / cell loss / maturation / differentiation

Corresponding author: Guy Dandrifosse

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2004