Diet can influence the structural characteristics of both small and large intestine. In this study, we investigated the duodenum and colon of mice fed on genetically modified (GM) soybean during their whole life span (1-24 months) by focusing our attention on the histological and ultrastructural characteristics of the epithelium, the histochemical pattern of goblet cell mucins, and the growth profile of the coliform population. Our results demonstrate that controls and GM-soybean fed mice are similarly affected by ageing. Moreover, the GM soybean-containing diet does not induce structural alterations in duodenal and colonic epithelium or in coliform population, even after a long term intake. On the other hand, the histochemical approach revealed significant diet-related changes in mucin amounts in the duodenum. In particular, the percentage of villous area occupied by acidic and sulpho-mucin granules decreased from controls to GM-fed animals, whereas neutral mucins did not change.
diet; genetically modified soybean; intestine; goblet cell mucins; foecal microflora