Increased intestinal permeability and Parkinson disease patients: chicken or egg?

Can J Neurol Sci. 2012 Mar;39(2):185-8. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100013202.


Gastrointestinal involvement is a frequent and early event in the course of Parkinson Disease (PD), and may have a prominent role in the early pathophysiology of the disease. On the other hand, derangement in intestinal permeability could also result from the involvement of the gastrointestinal tract over the course of the disease.

Patients and methods: The intestinal permeability of 12 non-selected PD patients was studied using a validated, non-invasive test; these results were compared to predefined age-adjusted reference values.

Results: 4/12 PD patients had abnormal gastrointestinal permeability; two had both an abnormal lactulose/mannitol ratio and an abnormal sucrose concentration, and two an isolated abnormal result. An increased lactulose/mannitol ratio is consistent with defect of either the enterocytes or the tight junctions between them.

Conclusion: Intestinal permeability is increased in a significant proportion of unselected PD patients with minimal gastrointestinal symptoms. The significance of this finding needs to be further evaluated.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Lactulose / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mannitol / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Permeability
  • Sucrose / metabolism


  • Mannitol
  • Lactulose
  • Sucrose