Little is known about how milk proteins affect gastrointestinal (GI) transit, particularly for the elderly, in whom digestion has been observed to be slowed. We tested the hypothesis that GI transit is faster for whey than for casein and that this effect is accentuated with hydrolysates, similar to soy. Adult male rats (18 months old) were fed native whey or casein, hydrolyzed whey (WPH) or casein (CPH), hydrolyzed blend (HB; 60% whey:40% casein), or hydrolyzed soy for 14 days then treated with loperamide, prucalopride, or vehicle-control for 7 days. X-ray imaging tracked bead-transit for: gastric emptying (GE; 4 h), small intestine (SI) transit (9 h), and large intestine (LI) transit (12 h). GE for whey was 33 ± 12% faster than that for either casein or CPH. SI transit was decreased by 37 ± 9% for casein and 24 ± 6% for whey compared with hydrolyzed soy, and persisted for casein at 12 h. Although CPH and WPH did not alter transit compared with their respective intact counterparts, fecal output was increased by WPH. Slowed transit by casein was reversed by prucalopride (9-h), but not loperamide. However, rapid GE and slower SI transit for the HB compared with intact forms were inhibited by loperamide. The expected slower GI transit for casein relative to soy provided a comparative benchmark, and opioid receptor involvement was corroborated. Our findings provide new evidence that whey slowed SI transit compared with soy, independent of GE. Increased GI transit from stomach to colon for the HB compared with casein suggests that including hydrolyzed milk proteins in foods may benefit those with slowed intestinal transit.
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