Factors that stimulate gut mucosal proliferation may be beneficial during periods of gut disuse or atrophy. Recently glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP-2) has been shown to stimulate small bowel growth. The purpose of our study was to compare the trophic effects of GLP-2 with those of neurotensin (NT), a potent gut trophic factor. Mice were randomized to receive either GLP-2, NT, or saline solution (control) for 10 days. The mice were killed on day 11, at which time the jejunum, ileum, and colon were removed, weighed, and DNA and protein content measured. Mice treated with GLP-2 showed a significant increase in the weight of the jejunum, ileum, and colon compared to both control and NT-treated mice. DNA content, a marker of cellular hyperplasia, was significantly increased in the small bowel and colon by treatment with GLP-2 and NT compared to control tissues. Small intestinal protein content, an indicator of cellular hypertrophy, was significantly increased by GLP-2 compared to both NT and control; protein content of the colon was greater in each of the treatment groups compared with control mice. We have demonstrated, for the first time, that GLP-2 stimulates colonic growth. In addition, GLP-2 is a potent trophic factor of normal small intestine with proliferative effects that are equal to or greater than those of NT. Administration of GLP-2 may be useful clinically to enhance small intestinal regeneration and adaptation during periods of disease and in the early phases of the short bowel syndrome.
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