Current medical curricula devote scarce time for practical activities on digestive physiology, despite frequent misconceptions about dyspepsia and dysmotility phenomena. Thus, we designed a hands-on activity followed by a small-group discussion on gut motility. Male awake rats were randomly submitted to insulin, control, or hypertonic protocols. Insulin and control rats were gavage fed with 5% glucose solution, whereas hypertonic-fed rats were gavage fed with 50% glucose solution. Insulin treatment was performed 30 min before a meal. All meals (1.5 ml) contained an equal mass of phenol red dye. After 10, 15, or 20 min of meal gavage, rats were euthanized. Each subset consisted of six to eight rats. Dye recovery in the stomach and proximal, middle, and distal small intestine was measured by spectrophotometry, a safe and reliable method that can be performed by minimally trained students. In a separate group of rats, we used the same protocols except that the test meal contained 99mTc as a marker. Compared with control, the hypertonic meal delayed gastric emptying and gastrointestinal transit, whereas insulinic hypoglycemia accelerated them. The session helped engage our undergraduate students in observing and analyzing gut motor behavior. In conclusion, the fractional dye retention test can be used as a teaching tool to strengthen the understanding of basic physiopathological features of gastrointestinal motility.


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