Total intestinal lactase and sucrase activities are reduced in aged rats.
J Nutr. 1997 Jul ;127(7):1382-7. PMID: 9202095
Jean Mayer USDA-Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.
Lactase-phlorizin hydrolase (LPH) and sucrase-isomaltase (SI) are intestinal microvillus membrane hydrolases that play important roles in carbohydrate digestion. Although the expression of these enzymes during postnatal development has been characterized, the effect of old age on disaccharidase activity is poorly understood. In the present investigation, we examined the effect of aging on lactase and sucrase activities and their mRNA levels in the small intestines of 3-, 12- and 24- mo-old rats by sampling from nine equidistant segments of small intestine. Total intestinal disaccharidase activity or mRNA abundance was determined from areas under the proximal-to-distal curves. Rats 24 mo of age had total intestinal lactase and sucrase activities that were 12 and 38% lower, respectively, than the 3-mo-old animals (P<0.05). In contrast, total LPH and SI mRNA abundance did not change significantly. Thus, total intestinal lactase and sucrase activities decrease with age in a manner that likely involves a posttranscriptional process. The age-related decline in disaccharidase activity, if extrapolated to humans, may have important implications for the digestion of carbohydrate contained in the diet of the elderly.