Intestinal proglucagon is thought to be synthesized primarily by the distal gut, although the role of proglucagon-derived glucagon-like peptide I (GLP-I) as a major physiological incretin would seem to be associated with production in proximal small bowel. To better characterize the sites of production of proglucagon and GLP-I in the small intestine and evaluate nutrient regulation of small bowel proglucagon and derived peptides, we evaluated the effects of fasting for 72 h and subsequent refeeding or jejunal infusion of long-chain triglyceride (LCT) for 24 h on local expression of proglucagon in proximal and distal small bowel. Proglucagon mRNA abundance and cellular localization were determined and correlated with wet weight of bowel. In jejunum, proglucagon mRNA abundance decreased by 40% with fasting (P < 0.005) and increased with refeeding to levels similar to those of ad libitum-fed animals. In ileum, fasting resulted in a 20% decrease in proglucagon mRNA (P < 0.005); in contrast to jejunum, refeeding did not result in a significant rise in ileal proglucagon mRNA abundance from fasting values. In jejunum, signal intensity of proglucagon mRNA per cell, determined by in situ hybridization, decreased with fasting (P < 0.05) and increased with refeeding (P < 0.005) in proportion to changes in mRNA abundance. Plasma enteroglucagon and GLP-I levels correlated with jejunal proglucagon mRNA. Intrajejunal infusion of LCT increased expression of proglucagon to a greater extent in jejunum than in ileum. In conclusion, enteral nutrient intake stimulates small bowel proglucagon expression; this effect is greater in jejunum than ileum, consistent with greater intraluminal nutrient exposure and the role of jejunum as a source of the major incretin GLP-I.

This content is only available via PDF.