1. Though mucosal uptake of peptides plays an important part in protein absorption, little is known about the site of maximal absorption of peptides in the small intestine. This paper reports an investigation of the characteristics of absorption and hydrolysis of l-methionyl-l-methionine (Met-Met) and glycylglycine (Gly-Gly) by tied loops along the length of the small intestine of the rat, and those of absorption of the equivalent l-methionine (Met) and glycine (Gly).
2. Absorption of Met-Met, or a mixture of Met-Met and Met, was maximal in the proximal half of the small intestine, whereas absorption of Met was maximal in the distal half. Absorption of Met-Met was greater than that of the equivalent Met, especially in the proximal small intestine. In most sites, absorption of a mixture of Met-Met and Met was not significantly different from that of the equivalent Met-Met. Absorption of Met was not increased by raising its concentration from 100 to 200 μmol/ml, but addition of Met-Met (50 μmol/ml) produced a large increase in absorption, indicating that absorption of Met from Met-Met is independent of that from free Met. During absorption of Met-Met, large amounts of free Met appeared in the intestinal lumen. Most of this resulted from intralumen hydrolysis. The hydrolytic ability of mucosal homogenates was several times greater than that required to hydrolyse the Met-Met disappearing from the lumen during absorption.
3. The sites of maximal absorption of Gly-Gly, Gly and a mixture of Gly-Gly and Gly, were all in the proximal half of the intestine near the mid-point. Absorption of Gly-Gly was greater than that of the equivalent Gly, especially in the proximal sites. In several sites, there was no significant difference between absorption of a mixture of Gly-Gly and Gly and that of the equivalent Gly-Gly. During absorption of Gly-Gly, the amounts of free Gly appearing in the lumen were small except in the two most distal sites. Most of the free Gly resulted from back-diffusion from the mucosa. The hydrolytic ability of mucosal homogenates was barely adequate to hydrolyse the Gly-Gly disappearing from the lumen during absorption.
4. The results suggest that there is no real discrepancy between the site of maximal absorption of protein digestion products from tied loops of small intestine and that of their absorption in the intact animal. They indicate that absorption of Met and Met-Met involves independent mechanisms, and confirm previous evidence that the capacity of the intestine to absorb mixtures of peptides and amino acids is greater than its capacity to absorb amino acids alone.