Background: Increased intestinal permeability (IP) involves the loss of integrity between the cells of the small intestine. IP has been suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis and exacerbation of many chronic diseases. Many potential risk factors for IP are proposed in contemporary literature. The purpose of this review is to identify the most significant risk factors for IP.
Methods: A systematic search of literature published up until September 2018 in the PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Scopus databases was conducted.
Results: A total of 47 articles met the inclusion criteria. Elevated levels of proinflammatory markers, dyslipidaemia, hyperglycaemia, insulin resistance, anthropometric measurements resembling obesity, advanced disease severity, comorbidity and the consumption of a Western-style diet were identified as the strongest risk factors for altered intestinal integrity. The risk of IP increases when coupled with a multiple disease state or combined with other environmental risk factors. Furthermore, many of the identified risk factors such as anthropometric measurements and biomarkers were external from intestinal health and rather resembled a metabolic-like condition.
Conclusions: This review identified a number of potential risk factors for IP, ranging from biomarkers to anthropometric measurements, demographics, dietary intake and chronic diseases. These risk factors warrant the attention of clinicians and other healthcare providers to aid the identification of potential patients at risk of altered IP. Further research needs to examine whether the identified risk factors are homogeneous with the diagnosis of IP or whether the disease state influences the association.
Keywords: intestinal barrier dysfunction; intestinal permeability; leaky gut; metabolic syndrome; zonulin.
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.