To examine the effects of oleic acid and ricinoleic acid on jejunal absorption, steady-state jejunal perfusions were performed in healthy volunteers. Taurocholate, used to solubilize the fatty acids, did not influence absorption. Both fatty acids (concentration, 10 mM) reversed electrolyte and water net movement; that is, they induced fluid secretion; this effect was rapidly reversible. Ricinoleic acid (the active principle of castor oil) was the more potent, producing fluid secretion when perfused at concentrations at which oleic acid was without effect. However, ricinoleic acid was absorbed more slowly than was oleic acid, and hence was associated with higher intraluminal concentrations. Addition of lecithin and monoolein did not diminish the secretory effect of ricinoleic acid; addition of a secretory bile acid (taurodeoxycholate) did not enhance the effect. The response of the jejunal mucosa to a known cathartic provides observations pertinent to the pathophysiology of steatorrheal diseases in man. Dietary fatty acid also has secretory properties with respect to the human intestine; bacterial hydration, to hydroxy fatty acids, is not required to induce fluid secretion.


H V Ammon, P J Thomas, S F Phillips


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