Although Strongyloides stercoralis is a common parasite, little is known about its effect on intestinal function. Published clinical studies are difficult to evaluate and compare because of the inability to differentiate the effects of the parasite load from that of various other coexisting features such as bacterial overgrowth, multiparasitism, malnutrition, or tropical sprue. Using a rat model where these problems do not occur, we found that Strongyloides ratti did not inhibit intestinal function in the healthy rat. In fact, in normal rats S. ratti appeared to increase ileal sucrase activity. In contrast, in the methylprednisolone-treated rat, S. ratti produced a decrease in lactase and sucrase activity and an increase in alkaline phosphatase activity. S. ratti had no effect on 3-O-methylglucose uptake or d-xylose absorption in either group. These results suggest that S. ratti has little effect on small bowel function in a healthy rat but can cause minor alterations in intestinal function in an immunosuppressed, methylprednisolone-treated, malnourished host. These results are also consistent with clinical observations seen with S. stercoralis in humans and with another nematode, Ascaris suus, in the pig model.
- alkaline phosphatase
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