1. The activities of nine peptide hydrolases and three non-peptidase brush-border marker enzymes have been quantified in crude homogenates prepared from the proximal, mid and distal regions of small-intestinal mucosa for sham-operated (n = 9) and uraemic (n = 14) rats. Abnormalities in enzyme activities were observed in all regions studied in the uraemic group, although no reduction in food intake occurred.
2. The proximal region of the small intestine from uraemic rats showed a general fall in enzyme activities associated with the brush-border. This fall was combined with a decline in mucosal protein content. In contrast, the mid and distal regions showed increased activity against the dipeptide tyrosyl-glycine.
3. It is proposed that the fall in brush-border enzyme activities in the proximal small intestine of uraemic rats is a response to the increased water intake associated with this, and presumably other, rat models of uraemia. The increased enzyme activity against tyrosyl-glycine found in the mid and distal regions of the small intestine of uraemic rats may be caused by an increased small-intestinal transit rate, but could be an attempt to maximize tyrosine absorption in response to decreased plasma tyrosine levels.
4. This study casts doubt on specific activities being the most useful units of enzyme activity, when measured in crude homogenates prepared from the proximal small intestine of uraemic rats. It also demonstrates that enzyme activities measured at a single site in the small intestine of uraemic rats may not be representative of the enzymatic changes occurring in the small-intestinal mucosa as a whole.