Summary: The relationship between intestinal morphology, disaccharidase activity, and disaccharide absorption is controversial. A retrospective study of 798 consecutive biopsies was performed to determine whether disaccharidase activities varied by subject age, biopsy technique, and degree of villus atrophy. Lactase activity was inversely correlated with age in the absence or presence of villus atrophy; sucrase, maltase, and palatinase activities did not correlate with age. Biopsies obtained by capsule or endoscopy had similar disaccharidase activities. In subjects 24 months of age or younger, the degree of mucosal injury was inversely correlated with lactase activity. In subjects older than 24 months, the degree of mucosal injury was inversely correlated with maltase and, to a lesser extent, lactase activities. The data suggest that disaccharidase activities in mucosal biopsies, whether obtained by endoscopy or capsule, are diminished in the presence of mucosal injury and correlate inversely with the degree of injury.
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