Schematic drawing of an enterocyte: the intestinal lumen is above the brush border.
LocationSmall intestine
ShapeSimple columnar
FunctionEpithelial cells
Anatomical terms of microanatomy

Enterocytes, or intestinal absorptive cells, are simple columnar epithelial cells which line the inner surface of the small and large intestines. A glycocalyx surface coat contains digestive enzymes. Microvilli on the apical surface increase its surface area. This facilitates transport of numerous small molecules into the enterocyte from the intestinal lumen. These include broken down proteins, fats, and sugars, as well as water, electrolytes, vitamins, and bile salts. Enterocytes also have an endocrine role, secreting hormones such as leptin.


The major functions of enterocytes include:[1]


Stem cell aging

Intestinal stem cell aging has been studied in Drosophila as a model for understanding the biology of stem cell/niche aging.[4] Using knockdown mutants defective in various genes that function in the DNA damage response in enterocytes, it was shown that deficiency in the DNA damage response accelerates intestinal stem cell aging, thus providing a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of this aging process.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Ross, M.H. & Pawlina, W. 2003. Histology: A Text and Atlas, 4th Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.
  2. ^ Joaquín Sánchez, Jan Holmgren (February 2011). "Cholera toxin – A foe & a friend" (PDF). Indian Journal of Medical Research. 133: 158.
  3. ^ Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, Chapter 17, 749-819
  4. ^ a b Park JS, Jeon HJ, Pyo JH, Kim YS, Yoo MA. Deficiency in DNA damage response of enterocytes accelerates intestinal stem cell aging in Drosophila. Aging (Albany NY). 2018 Mar 7;10(3):322-338. doi: 10.18632/aging.101390. PMID: 29514136; PMCID: PMC5892683