Short-term fasting-induced jejunal mucosa atrophy in rats –the role of probiotics during refeeding-
Background: Gut epithelium responds to the absence of luminal nutriments by changing its morphology and functionality. Thus, after a long-lasting period of starvation mucosal atrophy is prominent and sometimes hardly reversible. The aim of the present study is to investigate the potentially promoting effect of probiotics on the morphological features of the jejunal mucosa following a short period of fasting. Material and Methods: Sixty adult male Wistar rats were used:  6d feeding ad libitum [control];  3d fasting and 3d refeeding [re-fed];  6d fasting combined with parenteral liquid treatment in the last 3d [starved]. Each group had one non-probiotic and one probiotic treatment [Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 (Nebraska Cultures Inc., USA) 2.2 Χ 109 CFU/rat]. Upon termination of treatment a jejunal segment was received and processed for histology; number of villi, the total mucosal thickness, the crypt depth and villous length were measured.Results: All groups having suffered starvation showed altered morphology indicating jejunal atrophy: number of villi, mucosal thickness, villi length and crypt depth were reduced in relation to control. Refeeding seems to restore intestinal atrophy, while L. acidophilus supplementation resulted in α statistically significant improvement of all morphology related parameters in the gut. On the contrary, probiotics given in starved group exhibited no significant difference in relation to non-probiotic group. Conclusions: In the present short-term fasting/refeeding rat model L. acidophilus treatment seems to enhance restoration of jejunal mucosal atrophy. This finding could be of great importance in patients being deprived from food due to their illness.