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Clinical nutrition

Examining the pathophysiology of short bowel syndrome and glucagon-like peptide 2 analogue suitability in chronic intestinal failure: experience from a national intestinal failure unit



Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a leading cause of intestinal failure (IF). Home parenteral nutrition (HPN) remains the standard treatment, with small intestinal transplantation reserved for cases with severe complications to HPN. There have recently been significant developments in growth factor therapy. We aimed to develop a greater contemporary understanding of our SBS-IF subset.


We performed a retrospective observational study of a prospectively maintained HPN audit database in October 2017. Intestinal anatomical details and parenteral requirements were recorded. Each case was assessed for eligibility for growth factor therapy using recently published trials.


Of 273 patients receiving HPN, 152 (55.7%) had type three IF as a result of SBS (SBS-IF), with a mean duration of HPN of 61 months (range 4–416). Mean length of small intestine was 98 cm. Furthermore, 114 (41.8%) patients had an end jejunostomy (SBS-J), 18 (6.6%) had an end ileostomy, and 7.3% of patients had all or part of the colon-in-continuity. Crohn’s disease was the most common underlying pathology. Univariate analysis for the whole HPN cohort demonstrated SBS-IF and a longer duration of HPN to be associated with higher PN energy requirements, p ≤ 0.0001. Of all, 73 (48%) patients with SBS-IF were deemed suitable for GLP-2 analogue therapy, with co-morbidity being the most frequent cause of non-suitability (29.1%).


We describe a large U.K. HPN cohort using ESPEN pathophysiological and clinical severity classification. The majority of patients with SBS-IF had a jejunostomy and relatively few had colon-in-continuity. Co-morbidity is the most common contra-indication to GLP-2 analogue therapy.

Clinical relevancy

GLP-2 analogues are emerging as an important treatment for patients with short bowel syndrome. Our study explores patient suitability in a large HPN cohort managed in a national IF centre. Furthermore, the international variation in the pathophysiology of SBS-IF varies significantly, which can have a bearing on PN requirements and outcomes when GLP-2 analogues are used.

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Correspondence to A. Bond.

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Bond, A., Taylor, M., Abraham, A. et al. Examining the pathophysiology of short bowel syndrome and glucagon-like peptide 2 analogue suitability in chronic intestinal failure: experience from a national intestinal failure unit. Eur J Clin Nutr 73, 751–756 (2019).

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