Lacteal

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Overview

Lacteal
Gray1060.png
Transverse section of a villus, from the human intestine. X 350.
a. Basement membrane, here somewhat shrunken away from the epithelium.
b. Lacteal.
c. Columnar epithelium.
d. Its striated border.
e. Goblet cells.
f. Leucocytes in epithelium.
f’. Leucocytes below epithelium.
g. Bloodvessels.
h. Muscle cells cut across.
Gray1061.png
Villi of small intestine, showing bloodvessels and lymphatic vessels.
Dorlands/Elsevier l_01/12474659

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A lacteal is a lymphatic capillary that absorbs dietary fats in the villi of the small intestine.

The combination of fat and lymph in the lacteals is milky in appearance and called chyle. Individual lacteals merge to form larger lymphatic vessels that transport the fats to the thoracic duct which empties into the left subclavian vein.

At this point, the fats are in the bloodstream. They can be converted to lipoproteins (HDL, LDL or VLDL) in the liver or be transported to tissues throughout the body and stored in adipose cells as triglycerides.

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