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Annu Rev Physiol. 2005;67:471-90.

Secretion and absorption by colonic crypts.

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Department of Surgery, Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


The intestines play an important role in the absorption and secretion of nutrients. The colon is the final area for recapturing electrolytes and water prior to excretion, and in order to maintain this electrolyte homeostasis, a complex interaction between secretory and absorptive processes is necessary. Until recently it was thought that secretion and absorption were two distinct processes associated with either crypts or surface cells, respectively. Recently it was demonstrated that both the surface and crypt cells can perform secretory and absorptive functions and that, in fact, these functions can be going on simultaneously. This issue is important in the complexities associated with secretory diarrhea and also in attempting to develop treatment strategies for intestinal disorders. Here, we update the model of colonic secretion and absorption, discuss new issues of transporter activation, and identify some important new receptor pathways that are important modulators of the secretory and absorptive functions of the colon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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