February 1961

Fat Absorption

Author Affiliations


Department of Medicine, Royal Free Hospital, London, W.C.1. England (Dr. Dawson); Harvard Medical School, Gastroenterology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (Dr. Isselbacher).

Arch Intern Med. 1961;107(2):305-308. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620020155016

The mechanism whereby dietary fat is digested and absorbed has been the cause of much controversy during the last century. Briefly, there have been two main schools of thought. One school postulated that neutral fat was completely hydrolyzed to form glycerol and free fatty acid in the lumen of the small intestine and that, during absorption by the small-intestine mucosal cell, neutral fat was resynthesized from the free fatty acid, while the other school declared that hydrolysis was minimal and that much of the fat was transported through the cell unsplit in a finely emulsified form. The whole subject has been intensively reinvestigated during the last 10 years, and it is not surprising that the truth probably lies between the 2 extremes. There is an extensive but incomplete hydrolysis of neutral fat in the lumen of the small intestine, and probably some 70% of the fatty acid is liberated and

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