Mucosal stimulation following oral administration of emu oil represents a process of normal intestinal growth in rats

Scott J. Barker, Gordon S. Howarth, Lauren C. Chartier, Benjamin L. Scherer, Suzanne Mashtoub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background The therapeutic properties of emu oil have been attributed to its omega fatty acid composition. Orally-administered emu oil has previously been shown to increase intestinal crypt depth following chemotherapy-induced mucositis. However, the impact of emu oil on cell kinetics remains unclear. It was hypothesised that 10 days’ oral-administration of emu oil to normal rats would increase crypt cell proliferation, returning to normal levels on day 17 following emu oil withdrawal. Aim To determine the impact of emu oil on intestinal cell proliferation in normal rats. Methods Female Dark Agouti (DA) rats (n=8/group) were treated with either water (1ml), olive oil (1ml) or emu oil (0.5ml or 1 ml) via gavage for 10 days and were euthanised on days 10 and 17. Crypt depth measurements and crypt cell counts were conducted on jejunal and ileal specimens. To assess proliferation, sections were immunohistochemically stained for Ki67. Results On day 10, emu oil increased crypt depth (22%) compared to water control (p<0.05). Following oil withdrawal, crypt depths returned to normal values. Cell numbers per crypt increased in olive oil (10%) and emu oil (11%) groups compared to water control (p<0.05). Cell diameter was unaffected in all oil-treated rats (p>0.05). Emu oil increased Ki67 positive cells per crypt (40%) compared to water control (30%; p<0.05). Conclusion Emu oil administration increased crypt depth by stimulating cell proliferation as opposed to the process of hypertrophy. Restoration of normal intestinal growth following cessation of emu oil administration supports its safety for application in intestinal disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Journal of Herbal and Naturopathic Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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