Fine velvety protrusions which project from the mucous lining of the small intestine. Their purpose is to absorb nutrients. Each minute villus contains a network of blood capillaries and a central lymphatic duct. Nutrients from digested foods are absorbed by the villi cells, with digested proteins and carbohydrates passing into the capillaries for transport to the liver via the portal vein. Fats, in the form of fatty acids, are also absorbed, but are carried by the lymphatic duct in the vilus to arrive eventually in the bloodstream. 2 The appearance of the villi and the detailed shape may be profoundly influenced by changes in diet or disease (microbial infections).