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Influence of the Gut Microflora and of Biliary Constituents on Morphological Changes in the Small Intestine in Obstructive Jaundice

Increased amounts of intestinal endotoxin are absorbed in obstructive jaundice. The precise mechanism is not known but the increased absorption may arise from alterations in the luminal contents, in the intestinal flora, in the gut wall or in interactions between all three. To examine the effects of the intestinal flora we have compared the morphological changes in the small intestine in obstructive jaundice in germ free and conventional rats while the effects of bile constituents have been examined by addition of bile constituents to the diet of bile duct ligated rats. Changes in the intestine were examined, histologically, by enzyme histochemistry, and by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. The results showed no differences in response between germ free and conventional rats. Feeding of diets containing bile salts exacerbated the lesion. Feeding of diets containing cholesterol, however, reduced the degree of intestinal changes produced by cholestasis and completely antagonised the increase in damage caused by feeding of bile salts.