The effect of chronic ethanol ingestion on the ability of the small intestine to absorb zinc was examined in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Six rats were fed the Lieber-Decarli liquid rat diet for 1 month during which 36% of their total calories were provided as ethanol, while their pair fed controls received these calories as carbohydrate. Zinc absorption was then examined simultaneously in duodenal and ileal segments by in vivo perfusion. Net absorption of zinc in the ileum was reduced by 16% following chronic ethanol feeding. Duodenal absorption of zinc was significantly less than in the ileum and was unaffected by chronic ethanol ingestion. These results demonstrate that chronic ethanol ingestion significantly impairs net zinc absorption in the ileum of the rat, the most active area of zinc uptake as measured by in vivo perfusion, and suggest that malabsorption of zinc may contribute to the zinc deficiency seen following chronic ethanol ingestion.
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