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Clin Biochem. 2003 Oct;36(7):529-35.

Intestinal-type and liver-type fatty acid-binding protein in the intestine. Tissue distribution and clinical utility.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Intestinal-type fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP) has been proposed as plasma marker for the detection of acute intestinal injury. However, intestinal mucosa also expresses liver-type FABP (L-FABP). We have investigated the tissue distribution of I-FABP and L-FABP in segments of the human intestine along the duodenal to colonal axis and the potential of both proteins to serve as plasma marker for the diagnosis of intestinal injury.


I-FABP and L-FABP were measured with specific immunoassays in autopsy samples of the intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum and colon) of 23 subjects and in plasma samples from patients (n = 51) with intestinal and/or hepatic disease. Plasma reference values were established in normal healthy individuals (n = 92).


The I-FABP tissue contents in duodenum, jejunum, ileum, proximal colon and distal colon amounted to 2.22, 4.79, 1.04, 0.27 and 0.25 mug/g ww, respectively. L-FABP tissue contents were markedly higher, amounting to 124 and 198 mug/g ww in duodenum and jejunum, and to 58, 26 and 44 mug/g ww in ileum, proximal colon and distal colon, respectively. Elevated plasma levels of both I-FABP and L-FABP were found in patients suffering from intestinal diseases, while only L-FABP was increased in cases of purely hepatocellular injury.


I-FABP and L-FABP show a similar pattern of tissue distribution along the duodenal to colonal axis with highest tissue contents found in the jejunum but in each intestinal segment a >40-fold higher content of L-FABP than of I-FABP. Accordingly, besides I-FABP, also L-FABP is a useful plasma marker for the detection of intestinal injury, especially in patients undergoing intestinal surgery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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