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Zonulin, Stool

Measurement of zonulin in stool is a very important indicator for the assessment of leaky gut. Elevated serum levels of zonulin or more specifically Zonulin Family Protein (ZFP) have been found in pathological conditions such as metabolic syndrome and obesity, conditions associated with increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Elevated serum zonulin levels are in concordance with the results of the reference method for measurement of the gut permeability, ie Lactulose/Mannitol assay.

The concordance between fecal zonulin levels and lactulose/mannitol test results has not yet been fully confirmed, in contrast to the documented relationship between serum zonulin levels and lactulose/mannitol test results.

Elevated levels of zonulin in the stool have been linked to metabolic syndrome, obesity, and also increased levels have been reported in smokers.

The primary functions of the gastrointestinal tract are traditionally considered to be limited to the digestion and absorption of nutrients and electrolytes as well as to the regulation of water homeostasis. However, a closer look at the anatomical and functional arrangements of the gastrointestinal tract reveals that another extremely important function of this organ is its ability to regulate the movement of macromolecules between the environment and the host through a barrier mechanism. The intestinal epithelial barrier with its intercellular tight junctions, together with the intestinal lymphatic tissue and the neuroendocrine network, control the balance between tolerance and immunity to non-auto-antigens. Zonulin is the only known physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions that is involved in the movement of macromolecules and therefore in the regulation of the balance of immune responses between tolerance and reaction. When the zonulin-regulated transport pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders may occur.

The example of zonulin contradicts the traditional theories governing the development of these diseases and shows that these pathological conditions can be prevented if the interaction between genes (genetic background) and environmental conditions is deterred, by restoring the zonulin-dependent intestinal barrier.

See also

Zonulin, Serum

Leaky Gut Test

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