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Absorption of Fats in Small Intestine
The small intestine uses bile to emulsify and break down large fat globules into smaller pieces, which allows the lipase enzymes to break down the lipids into fatty acids. These fatty acids (and other lipids such as cholesterol) are packaged into micelles, which are taken up by the cells of the small intestine (called enterocytes). These enterocytes use the fatty acids to synthesize triglycerides within the smooth endoplasmic reticulum of the cell and within the lumen of the smooth ER, they combine many triglycerides, phospholipids and cholesterol molecules to form spherical chylomicrons. Chylomicrons also contain apoprotein components, which makes them lipoproteins. These chylomicrons are released from the basolateral side of the cell and move into the lacteal of the lymphatic system of the body. The lymphatic vessels carry the chylomicrons into the blood system via the thoracic duct, which connects to the blood vessels via the left subclavian vein. In the blood stream, the chylomicrons attach onto receptors on endothilial cells found on the wall lining of the blood capillaries. The membrane of these cells contain lipoprotein lipases that break down the triglycerides in the chylomicron, and the broken down components (fatty acids and glycerol) are then absorbed by the target cells, usually liver and fat cells. Chylomicrons are the largest type of lipoprotein. Several other smaller categories of lipoproteins exist, including low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
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