Bacterial translocation occurs in animal models of shock, trauma, sepsis, and parenteral or elemental enteral alimentation. Bowel atrophy and cecal bacterial overgrowth have both been implicated in the pathophysiology of bacterial translocation in many of these models. To further define the etiology of bacterial translocation resulting from dietary manipulations, rats were fed a elemental/defined-formula diet (DFD) for 2 weeks ad libitum and then randomized to either intestinal decontamination with a nonabsorbable antibiotic (neomycin) or no antibiotic treatment. Neomycin treatment significantly (p < 0.01) reduced the incidence of bacterial translocation after DFD, in association with a significant reduction in the number of cecal gram-negative bacteria. Neither loss of bowel mass after DFD nor bowel composition was affected by oral neomycin. Bacterial translocation after DFD would thus appear to be the result of cecal bacterial overgrowth rather than a loss of a physical intestinal barrier due to atrophy.
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