Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

John Grider


NTRODUCTION: Colonic bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by fermentation of dietary carbohydrates and fiber. The production of SCFAs is greatest in proximal colon where propulsion is likely to be highly dependent on chemical/nutrient stimuli. Unabsorbed SCFAs entering the distal colon are likely to modify peristalsis initiated by fecal pellet-induced distension. AIM: To determine the effect of individual SCFAs on propulsive contractions in guinea pig proximal colon and on pellet propulsion in distal colon. METHODS: Proximal colon was excised, cannulated and placed in Krebs buffer in an organ bath. After equilibration, the colon was distended with 1ml of Krebs buffer alone or containing sodium salts of acetate, butyrate, or propionate at 10-100mM. Motility was video recorded, spatiotemporal maps generated, and the number of full-length propulsive contractions during a 5 min period was determined. The distal colon was removed from guinea pig and placed in an organ bath containing Krebs buffer. Following equilibration, video-tracking software was used to measure the velocity of propulsion of a clay pellet placed in the orad end of a segment. Krebs buffer alone or containing individual SCFAs at 30mM was perfused caudad to the pellet at 0.1 ml/min. RESULTS: The basal rate of propulsive contractions in Krebs buffer was 2.9 ± 0.7 per 5 min. Butyrate and propionate had concentration-dependent and opposing effects on propulsive contractions; acetate had no effect. Butyrate significantly increased propulsive contractions (maximal increase of 207% (p ≤ 0.05) at 30 mM) whereas propionate abolished propulsive contractions (91-100% inhibition at 10-30mM). Control Krebs buffer containing 10- 100mM NaCl had no effect. The mean rate of pellet propulsion during perfusion of Krebs buffer alone was 1.5 ± 0.2 mm/sec. Addition of sodium butyrate (30 mM) to the perfusate increased the velocity of pellet propulsion by 40 ± 4% (p<0.05) whereas addition of 30mM sodium propionate decreased velocity of pellet propulsion by 75 ± 8%. Acetate had no significant effect in either proximal or distal colon. Mixtures of SCFAs showed a general decrease in overall motility. CONCLUSION: SCFAs have differential effects on propulsive contractions in the proximal and distal colon of the guinea pig, with butyrate being excitatory and propionate being inhibitory. These studies suggest that the movement of feces in the colon depends not only on distension but the chemical (i.e. dietary) composition of the feces.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2013

Included in

Physiology Commons