When the proximal duodenum of animals or humans is perfused with isoosmolar NaCl, bicarbonate enters the luminal effluent. In addition, duodenal bicarbonate output is stimulated by luminal acidification and prostaglandins of the E class. The hypothesis that in vivo human duodenal bicarbonate transport persists in the absence of a plasma-to-lumen bicarbonate gradient and therefore is probably an active transport process was tested. In healthy subjects, a 4-cm segment of the proximal duodenum was isolated from gastric and pancreaticobillary secretions. Net duodenal bicarbonate secretion remained similar to basal levels during luminal perfusion with either 24 or 32 mM bicarbonate (each isoosmolar with plasma by the addition of NaCl). In addition, peak increases in acid-induced bicarbonate outputs with luminal perfusion of 154 mM NaCl and 32 mM NaHCO3 (+122 mM NaCl) were similar. Moreover, prostaglandin E2-stimulated bicarbonate secretion with perfusion of 154 mM NaCl and 32 mM NaHCO3 (+122 mM NaCl) was similar. It was concluded that in humans, proximal duodenal mucosal bicarbonate transport remains unaltered in the absence of a plasma-to-lumen bicarbonate gradient at rest and after stimulation with HCl or prostaglandin E2. These observations suggest that human proximal duodenal bicarbonate secretion involves active transport.
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