I am currently studying the intestinal absorption/transport systems, but confused about one part specifically. There are hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds (to varying degrees), and they get absorbed by different methods.

As far as i can tell there are 3 main ways of absorption in the intestinal wall:

  1. Passive diffusion of lipophilic compounds through the membrane.
  2. Passive diffusion of hydrophilic compounds through pores and gap junctures.
  3. Active transport of larger molecules by transport proteins.

But once it makes it past the enterocyte absorption cells in the lining of the villi of the intestine, there are primarily two paths into systemic circulation:

  1. Capillaries of the blood supply from the hepatic portal vein, leading to the liver and first pass metabolism.
  2. Lymphatic uptake through the extension of the intestinal lymph system in there.

From what i can tell anatomically, both of these are somewhat intertwined/overlapped to an extend - but which properties of a compound determine wether it is primarily uptaken by the lymph system (getting it to the blood supply eventually circumventing first pass hepatic metabolism) or wether more of it is uptaken by the local portal vein capillaries? Is it small differences outside of the general hydro/lipophilic nature like size etc.?

Please correct me if i'm misunderstanding some of these basic anatomic concepts. I would appreciate if someone can tell me wether theres a set of parameters involved in this biochemical branching.

I just read the lacteals, the lymphatic vessels in the villi, absorb digested fats. Does that mean the more lipophilic a compound is the more likely it is to be absorbed by the lymph over the portal vein capillaries? That sounds a bit too simple for me. There must be more factors involved.


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