Influence of a high-fat diet on gut microbiota, intestinal permeability and metabolic endotoxaemia

Br J Nutr. 2012 Sep;108(5):801-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512001213. Epub 2012 Apr 16.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) may play an important role in chronic diseases through the activation of inflammatory responses. The type of diet consumed is of major concern for the prevention and treatment of these diseases. Evidence from animal and human studies has shown that LPS can diffuse from the gut to the circulatory system in response to the intake of high amounts of fat. The method by which LPS move into the circulatory system is either through direct diffusion due to intestinal paracellular permeability or through absorption by enterocytes during chylomicron secretion. Considering the impact of metabolic diseases on public health and the association between these diseases and the levels of LPS in the circulatory system, this review will mainly discuss the current knowledge about high-fat diets and subclinical inflammation. It will also describe the new evidence that correlates gut microbiota, intestinal permeability and alkaline phosphatase activity with increased blood LPS levels and the biological effects of this increase, such as insulin resistance. Although the majority of the studies published so far have assessed the effects of dietary fat, additional studies are necessary to deepen the understanding of how the amount, the quality and the structure of the fat may affect endotoxaemia. The potential of food combinations to reduce the negative effects of fat intake should also be considered in future studies. In these studies, the effects of flavonoids, prebiotics and probiotics on endotoxaemia should be investigated. Thus, it is essential to identify dietetic strategies capable of minimising endotoxaemia and its postprandial inflammatory effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Endotoxemia / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Permeability


  • Dietary Fats
  • Lipopolysaccharides