The complex task of measuring intestinal permeability in basic and clinical science

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016 Jul;28(7):957-65. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12871.


Intestinal permeability is a key feature of intestinal barrier function. Altered intestinal permeability is described in many chronic diseases and may be a risk factor for disease development and a target for emerging therapeutics. Thus, reliable and sensitive methods to measure intestinal permeability in both the clinical and preclinical setting are needed. There is currently a large array of tests to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantages. When possible, a combination of methods should be used. The choice of tests should be based on a deep understanding of intestinal barrier physiology and the recognition of their limitations. This mini-review will highlight the advantages and limitations associated with intestinal permeability tests and will identify current problems in the field and how they can be addressed in the future.

Keywords: intestinal permeability; paracellular permeability; transcellular permeability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Biomedical Research / trends*
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / trends
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations

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