The aim of this study was to examine the diurnal variations in ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity and apoptosis in the small intestinal mucosa of Mongolian gerbils. First, the feeding, drinking, and ambulatory patterns of the gerbils were recorded. The results indicated that Mongolian gerbils lost diurnal cyclicity in feeding, drinking, and ambulatory patterns. Second, ODC activity and apoptosis in the intestinal mucosa of gerbils were characterized by measurements at four time points (11:00, 17:00, 23:00, and 05:00 h; light period, 08:00-20:00 h). Apoptosis was evaluated in terms of percent fragmented DNA (fragmented DNA/total DNA). Neither ODC activity nor apoptosis showed diurnal variation in the jejunal mucosa of the Mongolian gerbils. In 48-h fasted gerbils, ODC activity in the intestinal mucosa decreased, but this activity increased significantly 2 h after refeeding; percent fragmented DNA increased in the intestinal mucosa, and returned to the control level 2 h after refeeding. These results indicate that postprandial local nutrients are an important factor in regulating diurnal variation in ODC activity and apoptosis in the small intestine of gerbils.
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