Processed foods drive intestinal barrier permeability and microvascular diseases

Sci Adv. 2021 Mar 31;7(14):eabe4841. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abe4841. Print 2021 Mar.


Intake of processed foods has increased markedly over the past decades, coinciding with increased microvascular diseases such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) and diabetes. Here, we show in rodent models that long-term consumption of a processed diet drives intestinal barrier permeability and an increased risk of CKD. Inhibition of the advanced glycation pathway, which generates Maillard reaction products within foods upon thermal processing, reversed kidney injury. Consequently, a processed diet leads to innate immune complement activation and local kidney inflammation and injury via the potent proinflammatory effector molecule complement 5a (C5a). In a mouse model of diabetes, a high resistant starch fiber diet maintained gut barrier integrity and decreased severity of kidney injury via suppression of complement. These results demonstrate mechanisms by which processed foods cause inflammation that leads to chronic disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Inflammation* / etiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Permeability
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic*