The ingestion of a meal stimulates the absorption of water and electrolytes from the small intestine independent of the cephalic or gastric phases of digestion. This study tested two hypotheses: (1) the jejunum is the origin of a postmeal proabsorptive signal and (2) the magnitude of the proabsorptive response is dependent on the caloric content of the meal stimulus. Twenty-five-centimeter proximal canine jejunal Thiry-Vella fistulas and feeding jejunostomies were constructed under general anesthesia. Jejunal absorption studies (n = 50) were performed by luminal perfusion of the Thiry-Vella fistula with 14C-polyethylene glycol (PEG) to calculate fluxes of water and electrolytes. Five groups were studied: (1) Control: no meal, (2) 240 kcal oral meal, (3) 480 kcal oral meal, (4) 240 kcal jejunal meal, and (5) 480 kcal jejunal meal. Independent of the route of delivery (i.e., oral vs. jejunal), each meal stimulus significantly increased jejunal water and electrolyte absorption (p < 0.05). The magnitude of the proabsorptive response increased significantly as the calories delivered increased (p < 0.05). These data support the hypothesis that a proabsorptive signal responsible for meal-induced jejunal absorption originates from, or distal to the jejunum and suggest that intestinal chemoreceptors or osmoreceptors participate in the generation of the proabsorptive signal.
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