Intestinal-type and liver-type fatty acid-binding protein in the intestine. Tissue distribution and clinical utility

Clin Biochem. 2003 Oct;36(7):529-35. doi: 10.1016/s0009-9120(03)00096-1.


Objectives: Intestinal-type fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP) has been proposed as plasma marker for the detection of acute intestinal injury. However, intestinal mucosa also expresses liver-type FABP (L-FABP). We have investigated the tissue distribution of I-FABP and L-FABP in segments of the human intestine along the duodenal to colonal axis and the potential of both proteins to serve as plasma marker for the diagnosis of intestinal injury.

Design and methods: I-FABP and L-FABP were measured with specific immunoassays in autopsy samples of the intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum and colon) of 23 subjects and in plasma samples from patients (n = 51) with intestinal and/or hepatic disease. Plasma reference values were established in normal healthy individuals (n = 92).

Results: The I-FABP tissue contents in duodenum, jejunum, ileum, proximal colon and distal colon amounted to 2.22, 4.79, 1.04, 0.27 and 0.25 mug/g ww, respectively. L-FABP tissue contents were markedly higher, amounting to 124 and 198 mug/g ww in duodenum and jejunum, and to 58, 26 and 44 mug/g ww in ileum, proximal colon and distal colon, respectively. Elevated plasma levels of both I-FABP and L-FABP were found in patients suffering from intestinal diseases, while only L-FABP was increased in cases of purely hepatocellular injury.

Conclusions: I-FABP and L-FABP show a similar pattern of tissue distribution along the duodenal to colonal axis with highest tissue contents found in the jejunum but in each intestinal segment a >40-fold higher content of L-FABP than of I-FABP. Accordingly, besides I-FABP, also L-FABP is a useful plasma marker for the detection of intestinal injury, especially in patients undergoing intestinal surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Carrier Proteins / blood
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Protein 7
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Female
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Intestinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Intestinal Diseases / surgery
  • Intestines / chemistry*
  • Intestines / injuries
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Intestines / surgery
  • Liver / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • FABP1 protein, human
  • FABP7 protein, human
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Protein 7
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins