Gut permeability, its interaction with gut microflora and effects on metabolic health are mediated by the lymphatics system, liver and bile acid

Future Microbiol. 2015;10(8):1339-53. doi: 10.2217/FMB.15.54. Epub 2015 Aug 3.


There is evidence to link obesity (and metabolic syndrome) with alterations in gut permeability and microbiota. The underlying mechanisms have been questioned and have prompted this review. We propose that the gut barrier function is a primary driver in maintaining metabolic health with poor health being linked to 'gut leakiness'. This review will highlight changes in intestinal permeability and how it may change gut microflora and subsequently affect metabolic health by influencing the functioning of major bodily organs/organ systems: the lymphatic system, liver and pancreas. We also discuss the likelihood that metabolic syndrome undergoes a cyclic worsening facilitated by an increase in intestinal permeability leading to gut dysbiosis, culminating in ongoing poor health leading to further exacerbated gut leakiness.

Keywords: barrier function; bile acid; gut permeability; liver; lymphatic; metabolic health; microflora.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts / physiology*
  • Dysbiosis / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology
  • Liver / physiology
  • Lymphatic System / physiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Permeability


  • Bile Acids and Salts