Journal Article

The trophic effect of dietary fibre is not associated with a change in total crypt number in the distal colon of rats

Cynthia S.M. Wong and Peter R. Gibson

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 24, issue 2, pages 343-348
Published in print February 2003 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online February 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/24.2.343
The trophic effect of dietary fibre is not associated with a change in total crypt number in the distal colon of rats

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Soluble fibres, such as guar gum, promote and wheat bran or methylcellulose protect from chemically induced colon carcinogenesis, relative to the effect of a fibre-free diet in rats. Mechanisms are poorly understood. Whereas all fibres are trophic to the colonic epithelium, the heterogeneity of effects on carcinogenesis may reflect different effects on the total number of crypts and, therefore, the size of the stem cell population. This study aimed to assess this hypothesis. Sprague–Dawley rats were fed one of fibre-free diets with or without 10% wheat bran, methylcellulose or guar gum for 4 weeks. The distal colons were stained with methylene blue and quantified for the number and density of crypts using an image analysis system. Epithelial proliferative kinetics was measured stathmokinetically. Methodology for quantifying crypts was valid and reproducible. Rats fed a fibre-free diet had atrophic distal colon, as shown by a decrease in crypt column height and a lower mitotic index. Fibre supplementation prevented the atrophy and was associated with crypt mouth areas that were 30–60% larger than those in the fibre-free group (P < 0.001, ANOVA), with the methylcellulose group being the largest (1.16 μm2). The crypt density of the fibre-free group was 16–19% greater than those in fibre fed groups (P + 0.006), due to the smaller size of the crypts. However, there was no difference in the total number of crypts across the four dietary groups (P > 0.1). Distal colons in all of the dietary groups contained ∼105 crypts. In conclusion, although variation in the amount or type of dietary fibre exerts heterogeneous effects on the growth of the colonic epithelium and on colon carcinogenesis, the total number of crypts in the distal colon remains constant. It is, therefore, unlikely that fibres influence carcinogenic events by altering the size of the stem cell population.

Keywords: GG, guar gum; MC, methylcellulose; NF, no fibre; WB, wheat bran.

Journal Article.  4908 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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