Chapter 10 excerpt: Leaky Gut: Fact or Fiction
- The human body is constantly being subjected to a barrage of chemical, physical, and biological insults from the gastrointestinal (GI) lumen. The body is protected by the so-called intestinal barrier.1
- The epithelial barrier is highly selective and semipermeable. It is a complex, dense mucous layer composed of IgA, antimicrobial peptides, and junctional complexes, including tight junctions (TJs).
- Intestinal epithelium safeguards the mucosal barrier immunity.2
- A disruption of the intestinal barrier exposes the gut and, indirectly, the rest of the body to the trillions of microbes, toxins, and other metabolic/toxic products.
Access to the gut immune system via the disrupted barrier creates the potential for pathologic immune stimulation, uncontrolled inflammation, and even acute sepsis.
Potential Chronic Consequences of Leaky Gut Perturbations of gut bacteria in early life during a critical maturation period can lead to a disruption in the gut’s ability to recognize commensal from enteropathogens.3 This can trigger uncontrolled pathologic inflammation in an otherwise predisposed subject, setting the stage for increased intestinal permeability in a vicious cycle. This creates a perfect environment for the individual to suffer from a diverse variety of chronic allergic and immune-mediated disorders in later life.
The epithelial barrier is a complex dense mucous layer composed of IgA antibodies, antimicrobial peptides, and junctional complexes. Junctional complexes bind the epithelial cells and maintain the barrier. This arrangement permits signaling mechanisms and facilitates selective permeability.
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