1. To study further the influence of luminal nutrition on small bowel structure and function, segments of rat jejunum and ileum were completely excluded from intestinal continuity by Thiry-Vella by-pass operations. The effect of partial deprivation of luminal nutrition was also studied in jejunal segments that had been surgically transposed to a distal position in the intestinal tract.
2. Macroscopically, by-passed jejunum and ileum both became narrowed and atrophic, whereas the intestine in continuity showed hypertrophic changes similar to those seen after intestinal resection.
3. In by-passed intestine the pattern of villi changed from mucosal ridges to ‘fingers’ and ‘leaves’. Although villous height and total mucosal thickness were both reduced, light microscopy showed that even 6 months after exclusion from intestinal continuity villous morphology was still retained.
4. Epithelial-cell migration rate and turnover time were diminished in both jejunum and ileum after by-pass. In intestine in continuity the migration rate was increased, but the turnover time remained the same as in controls.
5. In by-passed jejunum, in vivo glucose absorption diminished progressively with time, but did not change in excluded ileal segments.
6. After ileo-jejunal transposition, the jejunum showed no major morphological changes, but glucose absorption became significantly depressed.
7. These results further support the concept that intraluminal nutrition exerts a major influence on cell turnover, villous morphology and absorptive function in the small intestine.