Jejunum: The understudied meeting place of dietary lipids and the microbiota

Ingrid Lema, João Ricardo Araújo, Nathalie Rolhion, Sylvie Demignot

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Although the jejunum is the main intestinal compartment responsible for lipid digestion and absorption, most of the studies assessing the impact of dietary lipids on the intestinal microbiota have been performed in the ileum, colon and faeces. This lack of interest in the jejunum is due to the much lower number of microbes present in this intestinal region and to the difficulty in accessing its lumen, which requires invasive methods. Recently, several recent publications highlighted that the whole jejunal microbiota or specific bacterial members are able to modulate lipid absorption and metabolism in enterocytes. This information reveals new strategies in the development of bacterial- and metabolite-based therapeutic interventions or nutraceutical recommendations to treat or prevent metabolic-related disorders, including obesity, cardiovascular diseases and malnutrition. This review is strictly focused on the following triad: dietary lipids, the jejunal epithelium and the jejunal microbiota. First, we will describe each member of the triad: the structure and functions of the jejunum, the composition of the jejunal microbiota, and dietary lipid handling by enterocytes and by microorganisms. Then, we will present the mechanisms leading to lipid malabsorption in small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a disease in which the jejunal microbiota is altered and which highlights the strong interactions among this triad. We will finally review the recent literature about the interactions among members of the triad, which should encourage research teams to further explore the mechanisms by which specific microbial strains or metabolites, alone or in concert, can mediate, control or modulate lipid absorption in the jejunum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-136
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Epithelium
  • Fatty acid
  • Jejunum
  • Lipid absorption
  • Microbiota
  • Small intestine


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