Innovative research with pythons offers new insights into the body's digestive processes

ponse. Hence neither physical stimulation (cephalic, gastric, or intestinal) nor the luminal presence of glucose, lipids, or bile can induce intestinal response; instead, a combination of nutrients is required (even without pancreaticobiliary secretions), the most important being amino acids and peptides.

Significant is the finding that amino acids/peptides play a significant response to ingested nutrients. This could be explained that the giant snake's natural meal of live birds and mammals provides a high protein diet, with much less fat and few carbohydrates.

Advantages for using the python in gastrointestinal studies included observance of the creature's large regulatory span, the ease of surgical procedures during the experiment, and the disassociation between functional and trophic (nutritional) responses. The authors suggest that additional experiments be conducted with pythons to determine nutrient response to isolated intestinal loops, upstream or downstream induction of intestinal adaptation, and regulation of intestinal function by gastrointestinal peptides, and intestinal response to regulatory peptides.

The scientific community continues to debate the efficacy and safety of recommended diets for millions of Americans who are classified as obese. The answer to good health may lie in selecting food that is effectively digested by our gastrointestinal system and the laboratory animal holding the key could be the python.


Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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