Effects of incremental starvation on gut mucosa.
Starvation induces gut mucosal atrophy, but the effects of progressive dietary restriction are not defined. The study's purpose was to determine the effects of incremental starvation on gut epithelial cell turnover. After food intake of mice was determined, they were divided into five groups: control (ad libitum fed), 75% normal intake, 50% intake, 25% intake, and fasted. Mice were killed after 48 hours, and the proximal small bowel were assessed for weight and protein content. Histologic specimens were examined for villus morphology, apoptosis, and proliferation. After 48 hr of diet restriction, bowel weight decreased in the 50% intake, 25% intake, and fasted groups. Villus density also decreased in the fasted group. Proliferation progressively decreased in the diet-restricted groups. Apoptosis increased in the fasted group, primarily in the villus tip. In conclusion, incremental starvation produces progressive small bowel atrophy. The mechanism involves both decreased gut epithelial cell proliferation and increased apoptosis.