Intestinal absorption of [3H]octanoic acid and [3H]decanoic acid was investigated in the rat by electron microscope autoradiography. The common duct (bile and pancreatic common duct) of the rats was diverted and a loop of the duodenum was cannulated 24 h later. The lipid mixture to be investigated was introduced into each experimental loop, and after 15 min or less the loop was removed. One part of each loop was used to determine the distribution of radioactivity in different lipid fractions, and an autoradiographic study was performed on the other part of the loop. Radioactivity distribution studies confirmed that medium chain fatty acids are absorbed in their nonesterified form and established that these fatty acids are absorbed much more rapidly than oleic acid. Autoradiographic studies indicated that the medium chain fatty acids are taken up in a molecular or aggregate molecular form, leave the epithelial cells by way of the lateral plasma membrane, and are next found in the blood capillaries. Our results suggest that the Golgi complex does not play an important role in the absorption of unesterified fatty acids.

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