Mucosal metabolism in ulcerative colitis and crohn's disease

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Colonic mucosal metabolism of butyrate may be impaired in ulcerative colitis. In this study we sought to confirm this observation, to determine if a similar change occurs in Crohn's colitis, and to establish whether a panenteric disorder of butyrate metabolism exists in either condition.


With use of a microculture technique, mucosal metabolic fluxes of14[C]-labeled butyrate and14[C]-labeled glutamine were measured as14[C] carbon dioxide production in mucosal biopsy specimens from the colon and ileum in patients with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's colitis, and healthy bowel. Results were expressed as pmol/μg biopsy DNA/hour.


In the colon the mucosal metabolic fluxes of both butyrate and glutamine are reduced in both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's colitis compared with healthy controls. These changes were most marked in the presence of moderate to severe mucosal inflammation, there being no significant difference in mucosal metabolic flux between mildly inflamed mucosa and healthy controls. In the ileum the mucosal metabolic fluxes of butyrate and glutamine did not differ between healthy controls and those with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's colitis.


Changes in colonic mucosal metabolism of butyrate and glutamine in inflammatory bowel disease occur as a consequence of the inflammatory process and are not peculiar to ulcerative colitis. Ileal mucosal metabolism is unchanged in ulcerative colitis and Crohn's colitis, indicating the absence of a panenteric abnormality of mucosal metabolism in these two conditions.

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