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Rumen epithelial Na(+)/H(+) exchanger (NHE) catalyzes the exchange of extracellular Na(+) for intracellular H(+). Thus, it is of importance in the maintenance of Na and pH homeostasis of rumen epithelial cells. We have tested the hypothesis that an increase in energy and protein intake induces alterations of NHE isoform 1, 2, and 3 (NHE1, NHE1, and NHE3, respectively) mRNA abundance in the rumen epithelium of goats. Goats (n = 26) were randomly allocated to 2 experiments (n = 16 in Exp. 1, and n = 10 in Exp. 2) and fed either peanut straw ad libitum [PNS, n = 8 in Exp. 1, and n = 5 in Exp. 2; 600 kJ of ME/(kg(0.75)·d)] or PNS + concentrate [CF, n = 8 in Exp. 1, and n = 5 in Exp. 2; 1,000 kJ of ME/(kg(0.75)·d)] for 42 d. Concentrate (400 g/d) was given daily (0800 to 1700 h) in 4 equal portions at 3-h intervals. In Exp. 1, the goats were euthanized 2 h after the last portion of concentrate was fed, and in Exp. 2, the goats were euthanized after a fasting period of 16 h. In Exp. 1, goats in the CF treatment exhibited a greater ruminal short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentration (140.6 ± 1.30 mM) compared with those in the PNS treatment (114.3 ± 3.11 mM; P < 0.001), and pH decreased from 6.9 ± 0.09 to 5.9 ± 0.04 (P < 0.001). Correspondingly, the mRNA expression of NHE1 and NHE3 in the rumen epithelium was greater by 20% (P = 0.041) and 25% (P = 0.043) for goats in the CF treatment than for those in the PNS treatment. However, in Exp. 2, 16 h of fasting abolished differences in ruminal SCFA concentration, pH, and NHE mRNA expression between goats in the CF and PNS treatments. In both Exp. 1 and 2, a positive correlation was observed between ruminal SCFA concentration and expression of mRNA in NHE1 and NHE3, whereas expression was negatively correlated with ruminal pH. In in vitro studies with isolated rumen epithelial cells from goats fed dried grass, exposure to pH of 6.8 or to 20 mM SCFA increased (P < 0.01) NHE1 and NHE3 mRNA expression, as compared with exposure to pH of 7.4 or the absence of SCFA. A combination of reduced pH (6.8) and SCFA (20 mM) further enhanced (P < 0.05) NHE1 and NHE3 mRNA expression, indicating synergism between an increased concentration of SCFA and low pH (P < 0.05). Messenger RNA expression of NHE2 did not vary in vitro with pH (6.8) or SCFA (20 mM) or in vivo in Exp. 1 and 2. Thus, diet-dependent rumen epithelial NHE1 and NHE3 expression is probably related to ruminal SCFA concentration and pH, but that is not the case with NHE2.