Mean and peak jejunal bile salt concentrations during digestion of a standard fat meal were found to be significantly lower in six Puerto Rican patients with untreated tropical sprue, all of whom had steatorrhoea, than in six asymptomatic subjects who had normal fat absorption. Bile salt pool size and turnover time did not differ significantly in the two groups.
It is suggested that bile salt concentrations may be reduced in the proximal small intestine of patients with tropical sprue as a result of excessive dilution by intestinal fluid. The finding of low bile salt concentrations in two asymptomatic subjects indicates that bile salt lack alone may not be sufficient to produce steatorrhoea.
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