Diet effects on glucose absorption in the small intestine of neonatal calves: importance of intestinal mucosal growth, lactase activity, and glucose transporters.
Colostrum (C) feeding in neonatal calves improves glucose status and stimulates intestinal absorptive capacity, leading to greater glucose absorption when compared with milk-based formula feeding. In this study, diet effects on gut growth, lactase activity, and glucose transporters were investigated in several gut segments of the small intestine. Fourteen male German Holstein calves received either C of milkings 1, 3, and 5 (d 1, 2, and 3 in milk) or respective formulas (F) twice daily from d 1 to d 3 after birth. Nutrient content, and especially lactose content, of C and respective F were the same. On d 4, calves were fed C of milking 5 or respective F and calves were slaughtered 2h after feeding. Tissue samples from duodenum and proximal, mid-, and distal jejunum were taken to measure villus size and crypt depth, mucosa and brush border membrane vesicles (BBMV) were taken to determine protein content, and mRNA expression and activity of lactase and mRNA expression of sodium-dependent glucose co-transporter-1 (SGLT1) and facilitative glucose transporter (GLUT2) were determined from mucosal tissue. Additionally, protein expression of SGLT1 in BBMV and GLUT2 in crude mucosal membranes and BBMV were determined, as well as immunochemically localized GLUT2 in the intestinal mucosa. Villus circumference, area, and height were greater, whereas crypt depth was smaller in C than in F. Lactase activity tended to be greater in C than in F. Protein expression of SGLT1 was greater in F than in C. Parameters of villus size, lactase activity, SGLT1 protein expression, as well as apical and basolateral GLUT2 localization in the enterocytes differed among gut segments. In conclusion, C feeding, when compared with F feeding, enhances glucose absorption in neonatal calves primarily by stimulating mucosal growth and increasing absorptive capacity in the small intestine, but not by stimulating abundance of intestinal glucose transporters.