Background: Intestinal permeability has seldom been investigated in diabetes mellitus, even though patients frequently report gastrointestinal symptoms, and it has recently been shown that the prevalence of celiac disease associated with diabetes mellitus is higher than expected.
Methods: Intestinal permeability to cellobiose and mannitol was investigated in 31 patients affected by type I uncomplicated diabetes mellitus. Values were compared with those obtained in 32 normal subjects.
Results: The percentage of mannitol recovery was far higher than normal in two thirds of the investigated patients and correlated with the length of disease, even though the probes' ratio (cellobiose/mannitol) was in the normal range.
Conclusions: A not previously reported increase of intestinal permeability to mannitol, clear-cut and not associated with that of the larger probe, is found in type I uncomplicated diabetes mellitus. These results may describe a primary feature of type I diabetes mellitus and the initial steps of evolution to celiac disease.