The digestive adaptation of flying vertebrates: high intestinal paracellular absorption compensates for smaller guts.
ABSTRACT: Anecdotal evidence suggests that birds have smaller intestines than mammals. In the present analysis, we show that small birds and bats have significantly shorter small intestines and less small intestine nominal (smooth bore tube) surface area than similarly sized nonflying mammals. The corresponding >50% reduction in intestinal volume and hence mass of digesta carried is advantageous because the energetic costs of flight increase with load carried. But, a central dilemma is how birds and bats satisfy relatively high energy needs with less absorptive surface area. Here, we further show that an enhanced paracellular pathway for intestinal absorption of water-soluble nutrients such as glucose and amino acids may compensate for reduced small intestines in volant vertebrates. The evidence is that l-rhamnose and other similarly sized, metabolically inert, nonactively transported monosaccharides are absorbed significantly more in small birds and bats than in nonflying mammals. To broaden our comparison and test the veracity of our finding we surveyed the literature for other similar studies of paracellular absorption. The patterns found in our focal species held up when we included other species surveyed in our analysis. Significantly greater amplification of digestive surface area by villi in small birds, also uncovered by our analysis, may provide one mechanistic explanation for the observation of higher paracellular absorption relative to nonflying mammals. It appears that reduced intestinal size and relatively enhanced intestinal paracellular absorption can be added to the suite of adaptations that have evolved in actively flying vertebrates.
Project description:Absorption of small water-soluble nutrients in vertebrate intestines occurs both by specific, mediated transport and by non-specific, passive, paracellular transport. Although it is apparent that paracellular absorption represents a significant route for nutrient absorption in many birds and mammals, especially small, flying species, its importance in ectothermic vertebrates has not previously been explored. Therefore, we measured fractional absorption (ƒ) and absorption rate of three paracellular probes (arabinose, L-rhamnose, cellobiose) and of 3-O-methyl D-glucose (absorbed by both mediated and paracellular pathways) by the large herbivorous lizard, Uromastyx aegyptia, to explore the relative importance of paracellular and mediated transport in an ectothermic, terrestrial vertebrate. Fractional absorption of 3-O-methyl D-glucose was high (ƒ?=?0.73±0.04) and similar to other vertebrates; ƒ of the paracellular probes was relatively low (arabinose ƒ?=?0.31±0.03, L-rhamnose ƒ?=?0.19±0.02, and cellobiose ƒ?=?0.14±0.02), and decreased with molecular mass, a pattern consistent with other vertebrates. Paracellular absorption accounted for approximately 24% of total 3-O-methyl D-glucose uptake, indicating low reliance on this pathway for these herbivorous lizards, a pattern similar to that found in other terrestrial vertebrates, and different from small flying endotherms (both birds and bats).
Project description:Small birds and bats face strong selection pressure to digest food rapidly in order to reduce digesta mass carried during flight. One mechanism is rapid absorption of a high proportion of glucose via the paracellular pathway (transfer between epithelial cells, not mediated by transporter proteins). Intestinal paracellular permeability to glucose was assessed for two nectarivorous passerines, the Australian New Holland honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) and African white-bellied sunbird (Cinnyris talatala) by measuring the bioavailability of radiolabelled, passively absorbed L-glucose. Bioavailability was high in both species and increased with diet sugar concentration (honeyeaters, 37 and 81% and sunbirds, 53 and 71% for 250 and 1,000 mmoll-1 sucrose diets, respectively). We conclude that the relative contribution of paracellular to total glucose absorption increases with greater digesta retention time in the intestine, and paracellular absorption may also be modulated by factors such as intestinal lumen osmolality and interaction with mediated glucose uptake. The dynamic state of paracellular absorption should be taken into account in future studies.
Project description:Diet and host phylogeny drive the taxonomic and functional contents of the gut microbiome in mammals, yet it is unknown whether these patterns hold across all vertebrate lineages. Here, we assessed gut microbiomes from ?900 vertebrate species, including 315 mammals and 491 birds, assessing contributions of diet, phylogeny, and physiology to structuring gut microbiomes. In most nonflying mammals, strong correlations exist between microbial community similarity, host diet, and host phylogenetic distance up to the host order level. In birds, by contrast, gut microbiomes are only very weakly correlated to diet or host phylogeny. Furthermore, while most microbes resident in mammalian guts are present in only a restricted taxonomic range of hosts, most microbes recovered from birds show little evidence of host specificity. Notably, among the mammals, bats host especially bird-like gut microbiomes, with little evidence for correlation to host diet or phylogeny. This suggests that host-gut microbiome phylosymbiosis depends on factors convergently absent in birds and bats, potentially associated with physiological adaptations to flight. Our findings expose major variations in the behavior of these important symbioses in endothermic vertebrates and may signal fundamental evolutionary shifts in the cost/benefit framework of the gut microbiome.IMPORTANCE In this comprehensive survey of microbiomes of >900 species, including 315 mammals and 491 birds, we find a striking convergence of the microbiomes of birds and animals that fly. In nonflying mammals, diet and short-term evolutionary relatedness drive the microbiome, and many microbial species are specific to a particular kind of mammal, but flying mammals and birds break this pattern with many microbes shared across different species, with little correlation either with diet or with relatedness of the hosts. This finding suggests that adaptation to flight breaks long-held relationships between hosts and their microbes.
Project description:The aim of this study was (i) to compare levels of accumulated heavy metals in the fox intestines with and without parasites. Moreover, our research also dealt with (ii) examination of the relationship between heavy metal content in fox intestines and between the presence of fox intestinal parasites. The intestines of 34 hunter-killed foxes were dissected to detect the occurrence of parasites. In 15 intestinal samples, parasitic intestinal helminths were found. Heavy metal content in small intestine tissue and in parasites was determined using atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS). The prevalence of parasites was significantly dependent on Cd content in the host's small intestine (p < 0.01). To conclude, the authors suggest that parasites are sensitive to Cd levels; their prevalence in the intestines of the fox host decreases to zero with increasing Cd content.
Project description:Hyperphosphatemia is common in patients with chronic kidney disease and is increasingly associated with poor clinical outcomes. Current management of hyperphosphatemia with dietary restriction and oral phosphate binders often proves inadequate. Tenapanor, a minimally absorbed, small-molecule inhibitor of the sodium/hydrogen exchanger isoform 3 (NHE3), acts locally in the gastrointestinal tract to inhibit sodium absorption. Because tenapanor also reduces intestinal phosphate absorption, it may have potential as a therapy for hyperphosphatemia. We investigated the mechanism by which tenapanor reduces gastrointestinal phosphate uptake, using in vivo studies in rodents and translational experiments on human small intestinal stem cell-derived enteroid monolayers to model ion transport physiology. We found that tenapanor produces its effect by modulating tight junctions, which increases transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and reduces permeability to phosphate, reducing paracellular phosphate absorption. NHE3-deficient monolayers mimicked the phosphate phenotype of tenapanor treatment, and tenapanor did not affect TEER or phosphate flux in the absence of NHE3. Tenapanor also prevents active transcellular phosphate absorption compensation by decreasing the expression of NaPi2b, the major active intestinal phosphate transporter. In healthy human volunteers, tenapanor (15 mg, given twice daily for 4 days) increased stool phosphorus and decreased urinary phosphorus excretion. We determined that tenapanor reduces intestinal phosphate absorption predominantly through reduction of passive paracellular phosphate flux, an effect mediated exclusively via on-target NHE3 inhibition.
Project description:Decision-makers increasingly seek scientific guidance on investing in nature, but biodiversity remains difficult to estimate across diverse landscapes. Here, we develop empirically based models for quantifying biodiversity across space. We focus on agricultural lands in the tropical forest biome, wherein lies the greatest potential to conserve or lose biodiversity. We explore two questions, drawing from empirical research oriented toward pioneering policies in Costa Rica. First, can remotely sensed tree cover serve as a reliable basis for improved estimation of biodiversity, from plots to regions? Second, how does tropical biodiversity change across the land-use gradient from native forest to deforested cropland and pasture? We report on understory plants, nonflying mammals, bats, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Using data from 67,737 observations of 908 species, we test how tree cover influences biodiversity across space. First, we find that fine-scale mapping of tree cover predicts biodiversity within a taxon-specific radius (of 30-70 m) about a point in the landscape. Second, nearly 50% of the tree cover in our study region is embedded in countryside forest elements, small (typically 0.05-100 ha) clusters or strips of trees on private property. Third, most species use multiple habitat types, including crop fields and pastures (to which 15% of species are restricted), although some taxa depend on forest (57% of species are restricted to forest elements). Our findings are supported by comparisons of 90 studies across Latin America. They provide a basis for a planning tool that guides investments in tropical forest biodiversity similar to those for securing ecosystem services.
Project description:Ca(2+) is absorbed across intestinal epithelial monolayers via transcellular and paracellular pathways, and an active form of vitamin D(3), 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3)], is known to promote intestinal Ca(2+) absorption. However, the molecules driving the paracellular Ca(2+) absorption and its vitamin D dependency remain obscure. Because the tight junction proteins claudins are suggested to form paracellular channels for selective ions between neighboring cells, we hypothesized that specific intestinal claudins might facilitate paracellular Ca(2+) transport and that expression of these claudins could be induced by 1alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3). Herein, we show, by using RNA interference and overexpression strategies, that claudin-2 and claudin-12 contribute to Ca(2+) absorption in intestinal epithelial cells. We also provide evidence showing that expression of claudins-2 and -12 is up-regulated in enterocytes in vitro and in vivo by 1alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) through the vitamin D receptor. These findings strongly suggest that claudin-2- and/or claudin-12-based tight junctions form paracellular Ca(2+) channels in intestinal epithelia, and they highlight a novel mechanism behind vitamin D-dependent calcium homeostasis.
Project description:The small intestine is the primary site of drug absorption following oral administration, making paramount the proper monitoring of the absorption process. In vitro tools to predict intestinal absorption are particularly important in preclinical drug development since they are less laborious and cost-intensive and raise less ethical considerations compared to in vivo studies. The Caco-2 model is considered the gold standard of in vitro intestinal models regarding the prediction of absorption of orally delivered compounds. However, this model presents several drawbacks, such as the expression of tighter tight junctions, not being suitable to perform permeability of paracellular compounds. Besides, cells are representative of only one intestinal cell type, without considering the role of non-absorptive cells on the absorption pathway of drugs. In the present study, we developed a new three-dimensional (3D) intestinal model that aims to bridge the gap between in vitro tools and animal studies. Our 3D model comprises a collagen layer with human intestinal fibroblasts (HIFs) embedded, mimicking the intestinal lamina propria and providing 3D support for the epithelium, composed of Caco-2 cells and mucus-producing HT29-MTX cells, creating a model that can better resemble, both in terms of composition and regarding the outcomes of drug permeability when testing paracellular compounds, the human small intestine. The optimization of the collagen layer with HIFs was performed, testing different collagen concentrations and HIF seeding densities in order to avoid collagen contraction before day 14, maintaining HIF metabolically active inside the collagen disks during time in culture. HIF morphology and extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition were assessed, confirming that fibroblasts presented a normal and healthy elongated shape and secreted fibronectin and laminin, remodeling the collagen matrix. Regarding the epithelial layer, transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) values decreased when cells were in the 3D configuration, comparing with the 2D analogs (Caco-2 and coculture of Caco-2+HT29-MTX models), becoming more similar with in vivo values. The permeability assay with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-Dextran 4 kDa showed that absorption in the 3D models is significantly higher than that in the 2D models, confirming the importance of using a more biorelevant model when testing the paracellular permeability of compounds.
Project description:Adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) is the rate-limiting enzyme mediating triglyceride (TG) hydrolysis. The lack of ATGL results in TG accumulation in multiple tissues, underscoring the critical role of ATGL in maintaining lipid homeostasis. Recent evidence suggests that ATGL affects TG metabolism via activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ? (PPAR?). To investigate specific effects of intestinal ATGL on lipid metabolism we generated mice lacking ATGL exclusively in the intestine (ATGLiKO). We found decreased TG hydrolase activity and increased intracellular TG content in ATGLiKO small intestines. Intragastric administration of [(3)H]trioleate resulted in the accumulation of radioactive TG in the intestine, whereas absorption into the systemic circulation was unchanged. Intraperitoneally injected [(3)H]oleate also accumulated within TG in ATGLiKO intestines, indicating that ATGL mobilizes fatty acids from the systemic circulation absorbed by the basolateral side from the blood. Down-regulation of PPAR? target genes suggested modulation of cholesterol absorption by intestinal ATGL. Accordingly, ATGL deficiency in the intestine resulted in delayed cholesterol absorption. Importantly, this study provides evidence that ATGL has no impact on intestinal TG absorption but hydrolyzes TGs taken up from the intestinal lumen and systemic circulation. Our data support the role of ATGL in modulating PPAR?-dependent processes also in the small intestine.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In many species, the small intestine is the major site of calcium (Ca(2+)) absorption. The horse differs considerably from most other species with regard to the physiology of its Ca(2+) metabolism and digestion. Thus, this study was performed to get more information about the transcellular Ca(2+) absorption in the horse.Two mechanisms of intestinal Ca(2+) absorption are described: the passive paracellular pathway and the active, vitamin D-dependent transcellular pathway. The latter involves the following elements: vitamin D receptors (VDR), transient receptor potential vanilloid channel members 5 and 6 (TRPV5/6), calbindin-D9k (CB), the Na/Ca exchanger (NCX1) and the plasma membrane Ca-ATPase (PMCA). The aim of the present study was to investigate the protein and mRNA expression patterns of VDR, CB and TRPV6 and the ex-vivo Ca(2+) absorption in horses, assessed by qualitative and quantitative RT-PCR, western blot, immunohistochemistry and the Ussing chamber technique. RESULTS: Highest CB and TRPV6 mRNA levels were detected in the duodenum as compared to the middle parts of the jejunum and ileum and several sites of the large intestine. VDR mRNA levels did not change significantly throughout the intestine. TRPV5 mRNA was not detectable in the horse intestine. The highest VDR and CB protein levels were measured in the duodenum. Ussing chamber studies revealed ex-vivo Ca(2+) absorption only in the duodenum, but not in cecum and specific sites of the colon. CONCLUSION: The present findings suggest that TRPV6, CB and VDR may be involved in active intestinal Ca(2+) absorption in horses, as described for other mammals. TRPV5 may not play a major role in this process. Furthermore, the expression patterns of these Ca(2+) transport elements and the results of the Ussing chamber procedure indicate that a significant part of active intestinal Ca(2+) absorption occurs in the duodenum in this species.