BACKGROUND:The relationships between changes induced by diet in colonic epithelial kinetics and in the activities of brush border hydrolases are poorly defined. The aims of this study are to define these relationships, as changes in kinetics would be expected to influence differentiation, and to determine whether the type of ingested dietary indigestible carbohydrates influences hydrolase activities. METHODS:Groups of eight rats were fed a low fibre diet +/- supplements of different types of indigestible carbohydrates for 4 weeks. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV) activities and epithelial kinetics were measured in distal colonic mucosa. RESULTS:Median ALP activities correlated positively and DPPIV activity negatively with the median proportion of cells entering metaphase (r = 0.58 and -0.58, respectively; P < 0.05) and number of metaphase arrests per crypt column across the diets (r = 0.59 and 0.58, respectively; P < 0.05). Stepwise regression analysis showed that both hydrolases independently predicted these kinetic indices (R2 > 63% for each). Mucosal ALP activities were markedly elevated during consumption of raw potato starch, guar gum and methylcellulose, while only potato starch caused a significant elevation of DPPIV activities. CONCLUSIONS:The type of indigestible carbohydrate in the diet influences colonic mucosal hydrolase activities. The opposite relationship between kinetics and each of the two hydrolases indicates that these hydrolases do not reflect the same event; dipeptidyl peptidase IV might relate to differentiation status while ALP could also be influenced by epithelial irritation due to changes in luminal conditions.