Small intestinal morphometric and biomechanical changes during physiological growth in rats.

Journal of biomechanics

PubMedID: 15652539

Lu X, Zhao J, Gregersen H. Small intestinal morphometric and biomechanical changes during physiological growth in rats. J Biomech. 2005;38(3):417-26.
Changes in small intestinal geometry, residual strain and stress-strain properties during physiological growth were studied in rats ranging from 1 to 32 weeks of age. Small intestinal mass and dimensions increased many-fold with age, e.g. the weight per unit length increased five-fold with age and the wall cross-sectional area increased four-fold. The opening angle of duodenum obtained at zero-stress state was approximately 220 degrees and 290 degrees during the first and second week after birth and decreased to 170 degrees at other ages (p < 0.005). The opening angle of ileum ranged between 120 degrees and 150 degrees . The residual strain of duodenum at the mucosal surface did not vary with age (p > 0.05) whereas the residual strain of ileum at the mucosal surface decreased with age (p < 0.001). The circumferential and longitudinal stress-strain curves fitted well to a mono-exponential function. At a given circumferential stress, the corresponding strain values increased during the first 8 weeks of age (p < 0.05) where after no further change was observed. Hence, the small intestine became more compliant during early life. At a given longitudinal stress, the corresponding strains of ileum and duodenum became larger during the first 2-4 weeks of age (p < 0.05) where after no further change was observed. The small intestine was stiffer in longitudinal direction compared to the circumferential direction. In conclusion, pronounced morphometric and biomechanical changes were observed in the rat small intestine during physiological growth. Such data may prove useful in the understanding of the functional changes of the digestive tract during early life.