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  • Author: R Zabielski x
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J Wolinski, M Biernat, P Guilloteau, BR Westrom, and R Zabielski

Leptin, a hormone produced and secreted by adipose tIssue, muscles and stomach, is involved in the regulation of adipose tIssue mass, food intake and body weight in neonatal animals. It is also produced in the mammary glands and secreted into the colostrum and milk. Since leptin receptors are widely distributed in the small intestine mucosa, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of exogenous leptin on the development of the small intestine in neonatal piglets. Male neonatal piglets were fed with sow's milk or artificial milk formula. Every 8 h the latter received either vehicle or leptin (2 or 10 microg/kg body weight). The animals were either killed after 6 days of treatment and the small intestine sampled for histology and brush border enzyme activities or were tested for marker molecule (Na-fluorescein and BSA) absorption in vivo. Feeding milk formula slowed the maturation of small intestinal mucosa compared with feeding sow's milk. However, after leptin treatment the length of the small intestine was increased, and intestinal villi length, but not crypt size, was reduced compared with controls. The mitotic index was increased and the percentage of vacuolated enterocytes was reduced in the entire small intestine. Enterocyte brush border protease and lactase activities were reduced in the jejunum. Na-fluorescein marker molecule absorption did not change but that of BSA was reduced 3.8-fold. In conclusion, exogenous leptin administered in physiological doses reversed the maturation of the small intestinal mucosa to the range found in sow-reared piglets.