Role of Intestinal Transporters in Neonatal Nutrition: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Lipids, Minerals, and Vitamins

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To support rapid growth and a high metabolic rate, infants require enormous amounts of nutrients. The small intestine must have the complete array of transporters that absorb the nutrients released from digested food. Failure of intestinal transporters to function properly often presents symptoms as “failure to thrive” because nutrients are not absorbed and as diarrhea because unabsorbed nutrients upset luminal osmolality or become substrates of intestinal bacteria. We enumerate the nutrients that constitute human milk and various infant milk formulas, explain their importance in neonatal nutrition, then describe for each nutrient the transporter(s) that absorbs it from the intestinal lumen into the enterocyte cytosol and from the cytosol to the portal blood. More than 100 membrane and cytosolic transporters are now thought to facilitate absorption of minerals and vitamins as well as products of digestion of the macronutrients carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. We highlight research areas that should yield information needed to better understand the important role of these transporters during normal development.

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