Ink dispersion by sequential contractions in isolated segments of guinea pig ileum and duodenum

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Abstract

Conventional preparations that record the effect of contractions on intestinal flow assess primarily net propulsion and not flow events that like mixing are essential for digestion and absorption. Here we recorded the flow of an ink bolus in response to peristaltic contractions of segments of guinea pig intestine. It took three to four contraction/relaxation cycles to disperse a tiny and compact ink bolus throughout the intestinal segment. This was achieved by stretching, propulsion and separation of the bolus into portions during the contraction phase, and return and confluence of the bolus portions during the relaxation phase. As the contraction advanced through the intestinal segment, it generated rapid retrograde flow through its narrow lumen; eddies (flow vortices) formed at upstream shoulder of the contracting segment and dispersed the ink radially. The contraction cleared much of the fluid from the intestinal segment; during the subsequent relaxation, fluid returned into the segment, and carried portions of the ink upstream into the segment where it coalesced with residual portions. The current video observations of luminal flow confirm earlier predictions on luminal flow derived from computations. These flow events are likely an important mechanism through which intestinal contractions promote digestion and absorption.

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