We examined nutrient transport in the intestines of mice exposed to chronic low-LET 137Cs gamma rays. The mice were whole-body irradiated for 3 days at dose rates of 0, 0.13 and 0.20 Gy/h, for total dose delivery of 0, 9.6 or 14.4 Gy, respectively. The mice were fed either a control diet or a diet supplemented with high levels of vitamins A, C and E. Our results showed that nutrient transport was perturbed by the chronic irradiation conditions. However, no apparent alteration of the macroscopic intestinal structures of the small intestine were observed up to day 10 after initiating irradiation. Jejunal fructose uptake measured in vitro was strongly affected by the chronic irradiation, whereas uptake of proline, carnosine and the bile acid taurocholate in the ileum was less affected. D-glucose transport did not appear to be inhibited significantly by either 9.6 or 14.4 Gy exposure. In the 14.4 Gy irradiated groups, the diet supplemented with high levels of vitamins A, C and E increased intestinal transport of fructose compared to the control diet (day 10; t test, P = 0.032), which correlated with elevated levels of vitamins A, C and E in the plasma and jejunal enterocytes. Our earlier studies with mice exposed acutely to 137Cs gamma rays demonstrated significant protection for transport of fructose, glucose, proline and carnosine. Taken together, these results suggest that high levels of vitamins A, C and E dietary supplements help preserve intestinal nutrient transport when intestines are irradiated chronically or acutely with low-LET gamma rays.
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Vol. 184 • No. 5