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Intestinal bile acid physiology and pathophysiology

Author(s): Martínez-Augustin O, Sánchez de Medina F

Abstract

Bile acids (BAs) have a long established role in fat digestion in the intestine by acting as tensioactives, due to their amphipathic characteristics. BAs are reabsorbed very efficiently by the intestinal epithelium and recycled back to the liver via transport mechanisms that have been largely elucidated. The transport and synthesis of BAs are tightly regulated in part by specific plasma membrane receptors and nuclear receptors. In addition to their primary effect, BAs have been claimed to play a role in gastrointestinal cancer, intestinal inflammation and intestinal ionic transport. BAs are not equivalent in any of these biological activities, and structural requirements have been generally identified. In particular, some BAs may be useful for cancer chemoprevention and perhaps in inflammatory bowel disease, although further research is necessary in this field. This review covers the most recent developments in these aspects of BA intestinal biology. Martínez-Augustin O, Medina FS. Intestinal bile acid physiology and pathophysiology. World J Gastroenterol 2008; 14(37): 5630-5640 [PMID: 18837078 DOI: 10.3748/wjg.14.5630]

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