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During the absorption of glucose in the small intestinal lumen, the following processes occur.
Sodium ions inside the small intestinal cells are moved into the interstitial fluid and into the blood by the sodium-potassium pump.
The resulting low sodium in the intracellular environment creates a concentration gradient that triggers the transportation of sodium ions from the intestinal lumen into the small intestinal cells or enterocytes, by a mechanism called facilitated diffusion. Facilitated diffusion means diffusion facilitated by a transport protein. This transport protein, called the the sodium-glucose cotransporter, transports sodium alongside with glucose into the cells.
After glucose has been transported into the cell,it is then moved through the basal and lateral membranes into the blood by another transport protein called GLUT2.
Transport of glucose from the intestinal lumen into the blood. Activity of the Na+/K+ ATPase (green) in the basolateral surface membrane generates Na+ and K+ concentration gradients, and the K+ gradient generates an inside-negative membrane potential.
The Na+K+ ATPase uses the energy of ATP hydrolysis to move Na+ out of the epithelial cells lining the intestine and into the blood. The reduced concentration of Na+ inside the cell coupled with high Na+ inside the lumen of the intestine results in a driving force for the movement of Na+ into the cell.
The cotransporters in the membrane of the epithelial cell facing the intestine allow Na+ to enter only when accompanied by either glucose or one of the amino acids (each have their own set of co-transporters).
Glucose then moves into the blood through the permease in the membrane between the cell and the blood. Thus, ATP is used as an energy source to drive Na+ out of the cell, resulting in glucose transport from the intestine to the blood.