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The Digestive System

Functions of the Digestive


Ingest food

Break down food into nutrient molecules

Absorb molecules into the bloodstream

Rid the body of indigestible remains

Main Divisions of the Digestive


Alimentary Canal

Continuous, muscular digestive tube winding

throughout the body
Digests and absorbs food particles
Contains the following organs:

Mouth, Pharynx, Esophagus, Stomach, Small and Large


Accessory Digestive Organs

Contains the following organs:

Teeth, Tongue, Gallbladder, Salivary Glands, Liver, and


Digestive System Divisions

Digestive Processes

Chemical digestion

Circulation of the Alimentary

Canal/GI Tract

Splanchnic Circulation

Includes all arteries branching off the

abdominal aorta and the hepatic portal
Arterial supply:
Celiac Trunk (hepatic, splenic, and left gastric)
Mesenteric Arteries: sup. and inf.

Receives of the blood volume (CO);

increases after a meal

Histology of the Alimentary

Canal/GI Tract

From esophagus to anus, the walls of the

alimentary canal have the same 4 layers:

Mucosa (secretes hormones and mucus, absorbs

end products of digestion, and protects against
Submucosa (contains lymphoid follicles and
elastic tissue)
Muscularis externa (segmentation and
peristalsis, contains inner circular layer and outer
longitudinal layer, area where valves are found)
Serosa (same as visceral peritoneum, made of
areolar connective tissue)

Histology of the GI Tract

Peritoneum is the serous membrane lining the
abdominopelvic cavity
Visceral peritoneum covers the external surfaces
of most digestive organs and is continuous with the
parietal peritoneum that lines the body wall
Between the two peritoneums is the peritoneal
Mesentery is a double layer peritoneum; provides
routes for BV, lymphatics, nerves
Alimentary canal organs are classified as
Retroperitoneal - no mesentery and organs lies
posterior to the peritoneum (SADPUCKER)
Intraperitoneal - mesentery and organs lies

Features and Functions of the


Buccal/oral cavity
Contains stratified squamous epithelium
Vestibule: area bounded by lips and
cheeks externally and teeth and gums
Lips: posses no sweat or oil glands
Palate: forms roof of the mouth, soft
and hard palate, uvula

Anatomy of the Mouth

Features and Functions of the


Helps grind food into a bolus which

contains partially digested food and
Helps form words and is a sensory organ
for taste
Three surface features:

Filiform papillae (roughness and grip)

Fungiform papillae (contains taste buds)
Circumvallate papillae (contains taste buds)

Anatomy of the Tongue

Features and Functions of the

Salivary Glands

Main functions:

Produces and secretes saliva

Cleanses the mouth
Dissolves food chemicals so they can be
Moistens food, compacting it into a bolus
Begins the chemical breakdown of food

Salivary amylase: starch

Types of Salivary Glands

Submandibular Glands

Sublingual Glands

Found underneath the tongue

Parotid Glands

Found underneath the mandible

Found anterior to the ear between masseter

and skin

Saliva travels to oral orifice via ducts from

all three glands

Anatomy of the Salivary


Composition of Saliva: 97-99.5%

pH 6.75-7.0
Sodium, potassium, chloride,
phosphate, and bicarbonate
Salivary amylase

Features and Functions of the


Break food into smaller parts,

increasing surface area for digestion
Types of Teeth

Deciduous Teeth (baby teeth)

Permanent Teeth
Incisors- cutting and shredding
Canines- piercing and tearing
Molars- grinding
Premolars- grinding and crushing

Tooth Structure

Crown: exposed
portion of tooth
covered by enamel
which covers dentin
Root: internal portion
that is beneath the
gums (gingiva) and is
anchored by
periodontal ligaments

Deglutition and the Pharynx

Deglutition = swallowing
Oropharynx and Laryngopharynx are common
passageways for food and air
Pharynx contains stratified squamous epithelium

Features and Functions of the


Muscular tube that propels food to stomach;

bolus enters stomach through esophageal
Skeletal muscle (upper third for swallowing)
and smooth muscle (lower third) for peristalsis
Esophageal glands produce mucus to
lubricate bolus
Esophageal sphincter prevents backflow into
oral cavity
Cardiac sphincter- prevents backflow into

Anatomy of the Esophagus

Microscopic Anatomy of the


Digestive Processes in the

Mouth, Pharynx, and

Mouth processes:

Mechanical digestion (e.g. salivary amylase)
Initiation of Propulsion
Mastication: chewing

Pharyngeal processes:

Deglutition = swallowing

Voluntary Buccal phase

Involuntary Pharyngeal-Esophageal Phase

Esophageal processes:

Peristalsis (rhythmic contractions, involuntary)

Deglutition and the Pharynx


Features and Functions of the


Temporary storage area for food and allows it to

mix with gastric juice to produce chyme
Regions: cardiac, fundus, body, and pyloric
Greater and Lesser Curvatures: connected
to greater and lesser omentums
Rugae folds: longitudinal folds in stomach wall
- mucous b/w folds
Muscle layers arranged circularly, longitudinally,
AND obliquely (aids in digestion)

Anatomy of the Stomach

Microscopic Anatomy of the


Simple columnar epithelium contains gastric

pits that secrete gastric juices
Goblet cells secrete mucus that coats stomach
and prevents it from being digested itself
Parietal cells secrete hydrochloric acid
(converts pepsinogen into pepsin) and intrinsic
factor (necessary for absorption of vitamin B12)
Chief cells secrete pepsinogen which is
converted to pepsin to aid in protein digestion
Enteroendocrine cells release hormones such

Histamine, Serotonin, Gastrin, Endorphins, and


- activates parietal cells to release HCl
- contraction of stomach muscle
- gastric glands to increase secretion
- natural opiates
- sympathetic n.s.
- inhibits gastric secretion
- inhibits gastric emptying

Microscopic Anatomy of the

Digestive System

Digestive Processes in the

Gastric Secretion

Cephalic Phase
Stimulated by the thought, sight, taste, or aroma
or food
Inputs from olfactory receptors and taste buds
travel to parasympathetic enteric ganglia which
then stimulate stomach glands
Gastric Phase
Stomach distension activates stretch receptors
Food chemicals (e.g. peptides, rising pH) activate
chemoreceptors which activate G cells which
secrete gastrin
Intestinal Phase
Presence of low pH and partially digested foods in
duodenum stimulates intestinal gastrin secretion

Digestive Processes in the


Gastric Motility and


Peristaltic waves approach stomach and become

stronger near pyloric region
Pyloric sphincter allows ~ 3 mL of chyme to pass
to duodenum and the rest to return to stomach
for further mixing

Features and Functions of the

Small Intestine

Receives chyme from stomach; performs

majority of digestion and absorption of

Duodenum (upper region receiving chyme from

stomach and digestive enzymes from pancreas
and bile from liver and gallbladder)
Jejunum/Ileum (lower regions where absorption
Plicae circulares (permanent folds in mucosa
and submucosa that slow movement of chyme)

Anatomy of the Small


Microscopic Anatomy of Small


Villi: fingerlike projections that increase

the surface area of the SI
Microvilli: tiny projections on the plasma
membranes of columnar cells that appear
fuzzy (i.e. brush border cells)
Crypts of Lieberkuhn: secrete intestinal
juice and special lysozymes that protect
against bacteria
Peyers Patches: aggregated lymphoid
tissues containing lymphocytes

Microscopic Anatomy of the

Small Intestine

Secretions of the Small


Secretin: released by enteroendocrine cells

when acidic chyme enters SI; causes release of
bicarbonate-rich pancreatic juices
Somatostatin: slows gastric motility and
emptying and inhibits production of gastric
Cholecystokinin (CCK): released when fatty,
protein-rich chyme enters SI; causes release of
enzyme-rich pancreatic juices and bile
Brush border enzymes: process long peptides,
nucleic acids, and sugars into smaller ones

After Digestion:



Functions of the Liver

Largest internal organ


Filters and processes nutrient-rich blood

of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids
from intestine
Production and regulation of cholesterol
Production of bile which emulsifies fats
Removes drugs and hormones from
Storage of vitamins and minerals

Anatomy of the Liver

Right and Left Lobes: separated by

falciform ligament
Caudate and Quadrate Lobes: found on
posterior side
Blood vessels:

Hepatic artery/vein and hepatic portal vein

Gallbladder: found underneath left lobe,

stores bile

Gross Anatomy of the Liver

Microscopic Anatomy of the


Liver Lobules: structural unit of liver

Hepatocytes: liver cells contained within the lobules
Hepatic portal vein & Hepatic Artery : the
circulation of the liver, they bring blood into the liver
where it is filtered through the liver sinusoidal
Kupffer cells: remove debris
Filtered blood drains into the central vein, then to the
hepatic vein, and eventually to the inferior vena cava
Bile (produced by hepatocytes) drains into the bile
duct after passing through portal triad
Bile then shipped to gallbladder for storage

Microscopic Anatomy of the


Microscopic Anatomy of the


Blood supply
- receives fresh O2 blood from
hepatic artery (off of aorta)
- receives deoxygenated blood with
nutrients (from small intestine)
- hepatic portal vein
- From liver- hepatic vein- inferior
vena cava
Hepatic portal vein, hepatic artery and
bile ducts make up the portal triad.

Function and Regulation of

Bile ducts are present at every portal triad
Bile flows down bile canaliculi (tiny canals)
between adjacent hepatocytes towards bile
duct branches at every portal triad
Bile enters the bile ducts which drain into
the common hepatic duct
Bile emulsifies fats, separating them into
smaller parts
Bilirubin: the chief bile pigment, a waste
product of the heme of hemoglobin formed
during the breakdown of worn-out

Regulation of Bile

Bile exits cystic duct

upon stimulation
CCK released when
acidic, fatty chyme
enters intestines

Gallbladder Contraction
Pancreatic Juice Secretion
Relaxation of

Features and Functions of the


Pancreatic Juice secreted by acinar cells

Islets of Langerhans release insulin and
glucagon (important in glucose metabolism)
Pancreatic Juice contains:

Sodium Bicarbonate (buffers HCl in stomach)

Proteases (break down polypeptides)
Pancreatic amylase (digests oligosaccarides and
disaccharides into monosaccharides)
Pancreatic lipases (break down lipids into fatty
acids and glycerol)
Pancreatic nucleases (break down nucleic acids)

Anatomy of the Pancreas

Regulation of Pancreatic

Features and Functions of the

Large Intestine


Reabsorption of remaining water and

Production and absorption of Vitamins B
and K
Elimination of feces

Diameter is only 7 cm but is larger

than that of the small intestine

Gross Anatomy of the Large


Teniae Coli: bands of smooth muscle that create

pocket-like sacs (haustra)
Cecum: sac-like connection between the small
and large intestines
Appendix: small structure containing lymphoid
tissue; small immune function
Ascending, Descending, Transverse, and
Sigmoid Colon
Splenic and hepatic flexure
Rectum: storage area
Anus: regulates defecation with two sphincter
muscles; internal and external

Anatomy of the Colon

Microscopic Anatomy of the

Large Intestine

Simple columnar epithelium for absorption

except in the anal canal where there is
stratified squamous
No villi, no digestive-secreting cells
Goblet cells produce mucus for lubrication
of feces
Bacterial flora synthesize vitamin B and
most of the vitamin K needed for blood

Microscopic Anatomy of the

Large Intestine

Summary of Digestion

Summary of Digestion

The Process of Absorption

Clinical corner

Peptic ulcers - gastric and duodenal, caused by

Helicobacter pylori, NSAIDS, Hcl hypersecretion
Cirrohsis - scarred liver due to chronic
Hepatitis - A,B,C,D, and E
Biliary calculi - gall stones - crystals of
cholesterol in bile
Borborygmus - rumbling noise caused by gas
through intestines

Cholecystitis - inflammation of gall

Colitis - inflammation of colon
Dysphagia - difficulty in swallowing
Enteritis - inflammation of the
intestines Flatuation/erucation