reversible process; therefore, accumulation of mono-glycerides and free fatty acids in the vicinity of digesting fats quickly blocks further digestion. But the bile salts play the additional important role of removing the monoglycerides and free fatty acids from the vicinity of the digesting fat globules almost as rapidly as these end products of digestion are formed. This occurs in the following way.
Bile salts, when in high enough concentration in water, have the propensity to form micelles, which are small spherical, cylindrical globules 3 to 6 nanometers in diameter composed of 20 to 40 molecules of bile salt. These develop because each bile salt molecule is composed of a sterol nucleus that is highly fat-soluble and a polar group that is highly water-soluble. The sterol nucleus encompasses the fat digestate, forming a small fat globule in the middle of a resulting micelle, with polar groups of bile salts projecting outward to cover the surface of the micelle. Because these polar groups are negatively charged, they allow the entire micelle globule to dissolve in the water of the digestive fluids and to remain in stable solution until the fat is absorbed into the blood.
The bile salt micelles also act as a transport medium to carry the monoglycerides and free fatty acids, both of which would otherwise be relatively insoluble, to the brush borders of the intestinal epithelial cells. There the monoglycerides and free fatty acids are absorbed into the blood, as discussed later, but the bile salts themselves are released back into the chyme to be used again and again for this "ferrying" process.
Digestion of Cholesterol Esters and Phospholipids. Most cholesterol in the diet is in the form of cholesterol esters, which are combinations of free cholesterol and one molecule of fatty acid. Phospholipids also contain fatty acid within their molecules. Both the cholesterol esters and the phospholipids are hydrolyzed by two other lipases in the pancreatic secretion that free the fatty acids—the enzyme cholesterol ester hydrolase to hydrolyze the cholesterol ester, and phospholipase A2 to hydrolyze the phospholipid.
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