1. In studies on intestinal adaptation it is often important to obtain contemporaneous data on the rate of cell production and the functional status of the intestine.
2. The measure of the rate of accumulation of vincristine arrested metaphases in microdissected intestinal crypts to determine the crypt cell production rate (CCPR), is one of the most effective methods of estimating intestinal epithelial cell proliferation which is robust enough to withstand scrutiny. However, studies in the field of intestinal adaptation could be much more informative if a valid measure of intestinal function could also be included. One such method is the water absorption capacity in vitro.
3. The intraperitoneal injection of vincristine sulphate (1 mg/kg) had no significant effect on the water absorption capacity of the small intestine, as measured by the segmented flow single pass perfusion method; thus the CCPR of the jejunum and intestinal water absorption were both measured in 19 groups of hypo- and hyper-proliferative rats which should have been in a relatively ‘steady state’ of cell production and turnover.
4. The minimum values were obtained after hypophysectomy and the maximum values were observed in lactation. CCPR and absorption were significantly correlated (P < 0.001) with each other. There was a significant (P < 0.001) correlation between both CCPR and absorption and dry weight of the intestinal segment studies with food intake. Body weight was a poor predictor of either CCPR or absorption.
5. The combined study of CCPR and water absorption is a practical and convenient approach to the study of intestinal cell proliferation and intestinal adaptation, and shows that in ‘steady state’ models of hypoplasia and hyperplasia, cell production is closely linked to functional capacity and both of these are also related to the food intake.