Glucocorticosteroids enhance sugar digestive and absorptive functions of the intestine, but their effect on lipid uptake is unknown. Modifications in dietary lipids alter the nutrient transport properties of the intestine. The influence of 4 weeks’ treatment with budesonide (BUD), prednisone (PRED), or control vehicle in weanling rats fed either an isocaloric semisynthetic saturated fatty acid diet (SFA) or a polyunsaturated fatty acid diet (PUFA), on the uptake of lipids was assessed using everted gut rings. PRED and BUD increased the uptake of several fatty acids, and this was higher when the animals were fed SFA rather than PUFA. Changes in expression of the mRNAs for L-FABP (liver fatty acid binding protein) and ILBP (ileal lipid binding protein) did not explain these alterations in lipid uptake. Dietary lipid signalling of this adaptive response may involve proglucagon, c-jun, TNF-α and IL-10, whereas steroid signalling may involve proglucagon. In summary, steroids increase the absorption of lipids by a process which can be enhanced by the substitution of saturated for polyunsaturated lipids in the diet, and which is not explained by alterations in the expression of the mRNAs of L-FABP or ILBP.

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