Digestion and Absorption of Lipids

The salivary glands and stomach of neonates (newborns) produce lipases. In adults, however, very little lipid digestion occurs until the lipid globules in chyme arrive in the duodenum. Through mechanisms described in the next section, the arrival of lipids (primarily triglyceride, or fat) in the duodenum serves as a stimulus for the secretion of bile. In a process called emulsification, bile salt micelles are secreted into the duodenum and act to break up the fat droplets into tiny emulsification droplets of triglycerides. Note that emulsification is not chemical digestion—the bonds joining glycerol and fatty acids are not hydrolyzed by this process.

Clinical Investigation Clues

Remember that Alan had fatty stools and a prolonged clotting time.

■ Given what you have previously determined about Alan's condition, what could have caused his fatty stools?

■ How is this related to his prolonged clotting time? (Hint—vitamin K, needed for the formation of some clotting factors, is a fat-soluble vitamin.)

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