Amino Acids

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 751–760 | Cite as

Colonic luminal ammonia and portal blood l-glutamine and l-arginine concentrations: a possible link between colon mucosa and liver ureagenesis

  • Mamy Eklou-Lawson
  • Françoise Bernard
  • Nathalie Neveux
  • Catherine Chaumontet
  • Cécile Bos
  • Anne-Marie Davila-Gay
  • Daniel Tomé
  • Luc Cynober
  • François Blachier
Original Article


The highest ammonia concentration in the body is found in the colon lumen and although there is evidence that this metabolite can be absorbed through the colonic epithelium, there is little information on the capacity of the colonic mucosa to transfer and metabolize this compound. In the present study, we used a model of conscious pig with a canula implanted into the proximal colon to inject endoluminally increasing amounts of ammonium chloride and to measure during 5 h the kinetics of ammonia and amino acid concentration changes in the portal and arterial blood. By injecting as a single dose from 1 to 5 g ammonia into the colonic lumen, a dose-related increase in ammonia concentration in the portal blood was recorded. Ammonia concentration remained unchanged in the arterial blood except for the highest dose tested, i.e. 5 g which thus apparently exceeds the hepatic ureagenesis capacity. By calculating the apparent net ammonia absorption, it was determined that the pig colonic epithelium has the capacity to absorb 4 g ammonia. Ammonia absorption through the colonic epithelium was concomitant with increase of l-glutamine and l-arginine concentrations in the portal blood. This coincided with the expression of both glutamate dehydrogenase and glutamine synthetase in isolated colonic epithelial cells. Since l-glutamine and l-arginine are known to represent activators for liver ureagenesis, we propose that increased portal concentrations of these amino acids following increased ammonia colonic luminal concentration represent a metabolic link between colon mucosa and liver urea biosynthesis.


Ammonia absorption Pig colon mucosa 



The authors wish to thank Jean-Claude Bernardin, Pierre Vaugelade and Christian Poirier for their expert contribution in animal experimentation. Mamy Eklou-Lawson was a recipient of a grant from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle SCAC-French Embassy in Togo).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mamy Eklou-Lawson
    • 1
  • Françoise Bernard
    • 2
  • Nathalie Neveux
    • 3
    • 4
  • Catherine Chaumontet
    • 1
  • Cécile Bos
    • 1
  • Anne-Marie Davila-Gay
    • 1
  • Daniel Tomé
    • 1
  • Luc Cynober
    • 3
    • 4
  • François Blachier
    • 1
  1. 1.INRA, CNRH-IdF, AgroParisTech, UMR 914 Nutrition Physiology and Ingestive BehaviorParisFrance
  2. 2.INRA, Unité d’Ecologie et de Physiologie du Système DigestifJouy-en-JosasFrance
  3. 3.APHP Laboratoire de BiochimieHopital Hôtel-DieuParisFrance
  4. 4.Laboratoire de Biologie de la Nutrition, Faculté de PharmacieUniversité Paris DescartesParisFrance

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