Enteric bacterial overgrowth resulting from compromised gastrointestinal motility has been suggested to be important for the development of enteric bacterial translocation. In the present study, the effect of cisapride, a 5-hydroxytryptamine-4-receptor agonist and stimulant of intestinal motility, was evaluated concerning intestinal motility, as measured by intestinal transit time, enteric bacterial overgrowth, and bacterial translocation from the gut in rats with acute liver failure induced by 90% hepatectomy. The results demonstrated that (1) the incidence of bacterial translocation to the systemic and portal circulation as well as to the liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs was nil, and 17–33% to MLN in hepatectomized animals treated with cisapride, i.e. significantly lower than in hepatectomized rats administered saline; (2) overgrowth of E. coli in the intestine was noted in hepatectomized animals given saline, but not following cisapride treatment; (3) cisapride improved the otherwise delayed intestinal transit time following hepatectomy as shown by an increase in the leading edge of isotopic propulsion and the linear slope of the cumulative percent of radioactivity through each intestinal segment. Thus, we conclude that intravenous administration of cisapride prevents enteric bacterial overgrowth and bacterial translocation by improving intestinal motility in rats with acute liver failure induced by subtotal hepatectomy.

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