Faecal excretion of fatty acids is increased in patients with tropical sprue because of unabsorbed dietary fatty acids. The excretion of fatty acids correlates well with faecal wet weight. In vitro unsaturated fatty acids inhibited Na K-ATPase and Mg-ATPase isolated from basolateral membranes of enterocytes and colonocytes. These findings are a possible explanation for the observed abnormalities in water and electrolyte absorption by the colon in patients with tropical sprue and steatorrhoea.
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