Jejunal fluid and mucosal tissue were obtained simultaneously from the same jejunal site in a group of 29 children by a modified biopsy procedure. Lactase, maltase, and sucrase activities were measured in both fluid and mucosal specimens using the same analytical method. The fluid enzyme activities showed highly significant positive correlations with the same enzyme activity in the relevant tissue samples. Relative concentrations of disaccharidase enzymes represented by sucrase: lactase activity ratios also showed a highly significant positive correlation between fluid and tissue. This close relation suggests that the mucosa is the sole or predominant source of disaccharidase activity in the intestinal fluid. The results of kinetic studies comparing tissue and fluid enzyme characteristics also indicate a mucosal origin for the fluid enzyme activities. We conclude that disaccharidase activities in jejunal fluid reflect closely local tissue values and that these measurements may be useful in assessing mucosal enzyme activity in infants in whom jejunal biopsy is not possible.
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