We determined the intestinal site of zinc absorption in humans and investigated the interaction between intestinal absorption of zinc and other solutes using the triple-lumen steady-state perfusion technique. Twenty-one healthy subjects participated in the study. During intestinal perfusion of a balanced electrolyte solution containing 0.1 mM zinc acetate, zinc absorption occurred throughout the entire small intestine. However, the jejunum had the highest rate of absorption (357 +/- 14 nM.min-1.40 cm-1) compared with the duodenum (230 +/- 33 nM.min-1.40 cm-1) and ileum (84 +/- 10 nM.min-1.40 cm-1). Over a range of zinc concentrations infused into the jejunum (0.1, 0.9, and 1.8 mM) there were linear increases in the rate of zinc absorption (P less than 0.05). Intestinal absorption of zinc was significantly stimulated by the addition of glucose (20 mM). Zinc absorption increased from 459 +/- 39 to 582 +/- 45 nM.min-1.40 cm-1 (P less than 0.05). Conversely, zinc (0.9 mM) also enhanced the absorption of glucose, which was increased from 293 +/- 43 to 447 +/- 27 microM.min-1.40 cm-1 (P less than 0.05). The enhanced absorption of zinc or glucose was not accompanied by any increase in absorption of water and sodium. In contrast, increasing the concentration of zinc in the perfusate resulted in decreased absorption of sodium and water in a dose-related manner. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that zinc absorption is concentration dependent and occurs throughout the small intestine. The jejunum has the highest rate of absorption of zinc. The interactions between absorption of zinc and other solutes suggest that the transport process of zinc is carrier mediated.
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