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The gastric fundus mucosa also secretes the enzyme pepsinogen, which is present in the stomach much of the time but is inactive until the acid is present, when it becomes activated as pepsin. Pepsin acts on the denatured proteins by hydrolyzing, or cutting, the bonds between amino acids in the protein chain, which results in several smaller chains, or peptides.Fat hydrolysis is very active in the stomach. The fats have already been exposed to lipase in the saliva, which begins the hydrolysis, but it is the gastric lipase, secreted by the stomach, that is primarily responsible for fat hydrolysis in humans.
The antrum, or lower part of the stomach, is the site for the stomach's grinding action and contains a sensor mechanism, called gastrin, for regulating the level of acid produced in the body of the stomach. The antrum also controls the emptying of food into the intestine through the pyloric sphincter. This way the food can be delivered into the intestine in a controlled manner. Once the food-acid-enzyme mixture leaves the stomach, it is called chyme. The movement of chyme through the pyloric sphincter stimulates the intestine to release the hormones secretin and cholecystokinin, which signal the pancreas to release its contents, the pancreatic juice, inside the lumen (the lining) of the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine).
The small intestine, which is specifically designed to maximize the digestion and absorption process, has an expanded surface area with inner folds, called plicae, villi and microvilli, to increase its surface area and enhance its ability to absorb nutrients. All together, this surface is called the brush border of the small intestine. Some enzymes are present on the surface of the brush border, such as disaccharidases like sucrase, maltase, and lactose, which hydrolyze disugars (sugars composed of two monosaccharides) to their two individual sugar molecules.
The duodenum, the part of the small intestine that is closest to the stomach, is a neutralization chamber in which the chyme from the stomach is mixed with bicarbonate, which appears again, this time in the pancreatic juice. Bicarbonate lessens the chyme's acidity, thus allowing more enzymes to function and furthering the breakdown of macromolecules still present. The pancreatic juice also contains many of the enzymes necessary for digestion of proteins, such as trypsin and chymotrypsin, enzymes that cut proteins and peptides down into one-, two-, and three-amino acid chains; and amylase, an enzyme that continues the hydrolysis of starch.
A few nutrients, like iron and calcium, are taken up most efficiently in the duodenum; however, the jejunum, the middle section of the small intestine, is the place where most nutrients are actively absorbed. The amino acids as well as most vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the jejunum. The process of absorption used by the jejunum is called active absorption since your body uses energy to select the exact nutrients it needs. Protein carriers or channels hook-up to these nutrients and take them through the cell wall of the jejunum and into the portal vein, which carries them to the liver.