1. In a previous study we found that the protein synthesis rate was increased by 50–60% in the mucosa of the jejunum and ileum during sepsis in rats. It is not known if sepsis affects protein turnover in other parts of the gastrointestinal tract as well.
2. In the present study, the influence of sepsis on mucosal protein synthesis in different parts of the gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the rectum, was determined in rats.
3. Sepsis was induced by caecal ligation and puncture; control rats underwent sham-operation. Protein synthesis rate was measured in vivo after administration of a flooding dose of [14C]leucine.
4. Basal mucosal protein synthesis rates were lower in the colon than in the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. Sixteen hours after caecal ligation and puncture, the protein synthesis rates were increased by 40–85% in the mucosa of the small and large intestine and the rectum, whereas in the gastric mucosa, the protein synthesis rate was reduced by approximately 40%.
5. The results suggest that mucosal protein synthesis rates differ in the various regions of the gastrointestinal tract, and that the metabolic response to sepsis is different in the stomach than in the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. The finding of a reduced protein synthesis rate in the gastric mucosa may partly explain the tendency to gastric stress ulcers and bleeding seen clinically in sepsis.