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Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2016 Oct 20;7(10):e196. doi: 10.1038/ctg.2016.54.

Human Intestinal Barrier Function in Health and Disease.

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Nutrition-Gut-Brain Interactions Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
Host-Microbe Interactomics, Animal Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, WELBIO-Walloon Excellence in Life Sciences and BIOtechnology, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.
Nutrition and Health Research, Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.
European Branch, The International Life Sciences Institute, Brussels, Belgium.
Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Maastricht, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


The gastrointestinal tract consists of an enormous surface area that is optimized to efficiently absorb nutrients, water, and electrolytes from food. At the same time, it needs to provide a tight barrier against the ingress of harmful substances, and protect against a reaction to omnipresent harmless compounds. A dysfunctional intestinal barrier is associated with various diseases and disorders. In this review, the role of intestinal permeability in common disorders such as infections with intestinal pathogens, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and food allergies will be discussed. In addition, the effect of the frequently prescribed drugs proton pump inhibitors and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on intestinal permeability, as well as commonly used methods to assess barrier function will be reviewed.

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