This study was performed to investigate whether the malabsorption of fat in the blind loop syndrome is due to the presence of free bile acids or to a deficiency of conjugated bile salts produced by bacterial degradation of normal bile salts, as well as to learn something of the mechanisms by which bile salts might regulate fat absorption. In the everted gut sac of the rat in vitro, conjugated bile salts were necessary for maximal rates of fatty acid esterification to triglycerides, whereas free bile acids inhibited this process even in the presence of physiologically normal or higher concentrations of conjugated bile salts. In contrast, in the living animal the addition of similar or higher concentrations of free bile acids to infusions of fatty acids in taurocholate micellar solutions produced no reduction in the amount of fatty acid absorbed into lymph or the amount of fatty acid esterified into lymph triglyceride. Both in vitro and in the living animal, reduction in the conjugated bile salt concentration reduced both the rate of fatty acid uptake by the intestine and the esterification into triglycerides. It is concluded that the steatorrhea of the blind loop syndrome or other conditions in which upper intestinal stasis allows bacterial proliferation is not due to presence of increased gut luminal concentrations of free bile acids, but rather is a consequence of lowered concentrations of conjugated bile salts.
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