Dietary Carbohydrates and Lipids in the Pathogenesis of Leaky Gut Syndrome: An Overview

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 8;21(21):8368. doi: 10.3390/ijms21218368.


This review summarizes the recent knowledge on the effects of dietary carbohydrates and lipids on the pathophysiology of leaky gut syndrome (LGS). Alterations in intestinal barrier permeability may lead to serious gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. LGS is caused by intestinal hyperpermeability due to changes in the expression levels and functioning of tight junctions. The influence of dietary habits on intestinal physiology is clearly visible in incidence rates of intestinal diseases in industrial and developing countries. Diseases which are linked to intestinal hyperpermeability tend to localize to Westernized countries, where a diet rich in fats and refined carbohydrates predominates. Several studies suggest that fructose is one of the key carbohydrates involved in the regulation of the intestinal permeability and its overuse may cause harmful effects, such as tight junction protein dysfunction. On the other hand, short chain fatty acids (mainly butyrate) at appropriate concentrations may lead to the reduction of intestinal permeability, which is beneficial in LGS. However, long chain fatty acids, including n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids have unclear properties. Some of those behave as components untightening and tightening the intestinal membrane.

Keywords: carbohydrates; leaky gut syndrome; lipids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Fructose / administration & dosage
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Glucose / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Lipids / administration & dosage
  • Lipids / adverse effects
  • Permeability
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Syndrome
  • Tight Junctions / physiology


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Lipids
  • Prebiotics
  • Fructose
  • Glucose