British Journal of Nutrition

Absorption of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids

Intestinal absorption and liver uptake of medium-chain fatty acids in non-anaesthetized pigs

E. Guillota1, P. Vaugeladea2, P. Lemarchalia1 and A. Re Rata2

a1 Laboratoire de Biochimie, INRA-ENSA, 65 rue de St Brieuc, 35000 Rennes, France

a2 Unith sur l'absorption intestinale et le métabolisme hépatique, NASA, INRA, 78350 Juuy en Josas., France


In order to study the rate of intestinal absorption and hepatic uptake of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), six growing pigs, mean body weight 65 kg, were fitted with a permanent fistula in the duodenum and with three catheters in the portal vein, carotid artery and hepatic vein respectively. Two electromagnetic flow probes were also set up, one around the portal vein and one around the hepatic artery. A mixture of octanoic and decanoic acids, esterified as medium-chain triacylglycerols, together with maltose dextrine and a nitrogenous fraction was continuously infused for 1 h into the duodenum. Samples of blood were withdrawn from the three vessels at regular intervals for 12 h and further analysed for their non-esterified octanoic and decanoic acid contents. The concentration of non-esterified octanoic and decanoic acids in the portal blood rose sharply after the beginning of each infusion and showed a biphasic time-course with two maximum values, one after 15 min and a later one between 75 and 90 min. Only 65 % of octanoic acid infused into the duodenum and 54 % of decanoic acid were recovered in the portal flow throughout each experiment. The amounts of non-esterified MCFA taken up per h by the liver were close to those absorbed from the gut via the portal vein within the same periods of time, showing that the liver is the main site of utilization of MCFA in pigs. These results have been discussed with a special emphasis laid on the possible mechanisms of the biphasic time-course of MCFA absorption and the incomplete recovery in the portal blood of the infused fatty acids.

(Received July 17 1991)

(Accepted March 28 1992)