1. Effects of dietary composition, energy restriction, and diabetes on hexose absorption were examined by feeding male rats isoenergetic, semi-synthetic diets of differing carbohydrate and protein content. Diets were carbohydrate, (g/kg): 890 sucrose; carbohydrate-protein, 500 sucrose, 390 casein; or protein, 890 casein. An additional group was fed on commercial rat chow ad lib.
2. Hexose (3-O-methyl-D-glucose) absorption was measured by luminal perfusion of the entire small intestine in situ. Absorption by the total small intestine, i.e. absorption per rat, and absorption per g dry weight of mucosa (specific absorption) were calculated.
3. When semi-synthetic diets were fed at 210 kJ/d to normal animals absorption depended on composition of diets: carbohydrate enhanced or protein suppressed hexose absorption. Dietary carbohydrate as glucose, dextrimaltose or starch gave the same hexose absorption response as sucrose.
4. When diets of normal rats were restricted to 118 kJ/d, specific absorption was independent of dietary composition and was incresed for all dietary groups to the level of the group fed on the carbohydrate diet at 210 kJ/d.
5. When diabetic rats were given 210 kJ/d, hexose specific absorption was the same for all diabetic groups independent of dietary composition and was equal to that of controls given carbohydrate, but greater than that of protein-fed controls.
6. Thus, when two of the three stimuli (i.e. carbohydrate diet plus energy restriction or diabetes) were combined, the effect was not additive, and the response of hexose specific absorption to diabetes and energy restriction was the same: absorption was independent of dietary composition and was stimulated relative to controls fed on diets containing protein.
7. The pattern of response of total small intestinal hexose absorption to the stimuli of dietary composition, energy restriction and diabetes was similar to that of specific absorption.
8. Compared with groups given semi-synthetic diets, rats eating commercial rat chow ad lib. (approximately 286 kJ/d) showed increased mucosal mass and decreased specific absorption, but total absorption was similar to that of the carbohydrate and carbohydrate-protein-fed groups.
9. In a separate study in control rats, specific and total intestinal absorption of L-leucine did not respond to dietary composition, i.e. level of protein fed.