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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


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Enterocytes, or intestinal absorptive cells, are simple columnar epithelial cells found in the small intestines and colon. A glycocalyx surface coat contains digestive enzymes. Microvilli on the apical surface increase surface area for the digestion and transport of molecules from the intestinal lumen. The cells also have a secretory role.


Apical membrane and Basolateral membrane

The major functions of enterocytes include[1]:


Dietary fructose intolerance occurs when there is a deficiency in the amount of fructose carrier.

Lactose intolerance is the most common problem of carbohydrate digestion and is created by an insufficient amount of lactase (a disaccharidase) enzyme, which is used to break down the sugar. As a result of this deficiency, undigested lactose cannot be absorbed and is instead passed on to the colonic bacteria, which metabolize the lactose. The bacteria release gas and metabolic products that enhance colonic motility.

Problems with the gastric intrinsic factor or its receptor can result in pernicious anemia.


  1. Ross, M.H. & Pawlina, W. 2003. Histology: A Text and Atlas, 4th Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

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