The ability of the intestine to adapt to changes in environmental stimuli may be compromised with aging. Young animals fed saturated fatty acids (SFA) versus polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have an increased intestinal uptake of glucose. The objectives of this study were to determine (1) the effects of age on glucose uptake in rats; (2) the influence of feeding SFA versus PUFA; and (3) the mechanisms of these age- and diet-associated changes. Male Fischer 344 rats aged 1, 9 and 24 months received semi-purified isocaloric diets enriched with either SFA or PUFA. The uptake of14C-labelled D-glucose was determined in vitro using the intestinal sheet method. Northern blotting, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to determine the effects of age and diet on SGLT1, GLUT2 and Na+K+-ATPase. The mucosal surface area of the jejunum was reduced in 9 and 24 as compared with 1-month-old rats fed SFA. PUFA delayed this age-associated reduction in surface area. In SFA, the ileal uptake of glucose fell with age when expressed on the basis of intestinal or mucosal weight. Feeding PUFA prevented this decline. Alterations in glucose uptake were not paralleled by the changes in SGLT1, GLUT2 or Na+K+-ATPase abundance. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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