Background: Family studies suggested that an altered intestinal permeability plays a role in the genesis of Crohn's disease.
Aim: Aim of the present study was to investigate a possible genetic alteration of the mucosal barrier in Crohn's disease.
Subjects: 16 Crohn's disease patients and 26 of their cohabiting first degree relatives were studied.
Methods: To investigate intestinal permeability, Cellobiose/Mannitol test was administered to both groups.
Results: In the two groups, we found that the median intestinal permeability values were higher and statistically different from those obtained in 32 healthy control subjects as well as in five healthy control families. Six (37.5%) Crohn's disease patients and three (11.5%) of their first degree relatives showed increased individual intestinal permeability values. Intestinal permeability alteration in Crohn's disease patients was unrelated to sex, age, disease activity, localisation, duration, treatment schedule, as well as to serum anti-Saccharomyces cervisiae antibody positivity in a pilot study conducted in 7 Crohn's disease patients; anti-Saccharomyces cervisiae antibody values were negative in all 10 first degree relatives investigated.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the increase in IP in 37% of the patients and in 11% of their relatives. More extensive investigation of the correlation between ASCA alterations and IP will be needed in both patients with Crohn's disease and their relatives.