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BMC Geriatr. 2018 Mar 20;18(1):75. doi: 10.1186/s12877-018-0767-6.

Are self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms among older adults associated with increased intestinal permeability and psychological distress?

Author information

1
Nutrition Gut Brain Interactions Research Centre, Department of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
2
Nutrition and Physical Activity Research Centre, Department of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
3
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
4
Nutrition and Physical Activity Research Centre, Department of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden. ida.schoultz@oru.se.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite the substantial number of older adults suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms little is known regarding the character of these complaints and whether they are associated with an altered intestinal barrier function and psychological distress. Our aim was to explore the relationship between self-reported gut health, intestinal permeability and psychological distress among older adults.

METHODS:

Three study populations were included: 1) older adults with GI symptoms (n = 24), 2) a group of older adults representing the general elderly population in Sweden (n = 22) and 3) senior orienteering athletes as a potential model of healthy ageing (n = 27). Questionnaire data on gut-health, psychological distress and level of physical activity were collected. Intestinal permeability was measured by quantifying zonulin in plasma. The level of systemic and local inflammation was monitored by measuring C-reactive protein (CRP), hydrogen peroxide in plasma and calprotectin in stool samples. The relationship between biomarkers and questionnaire data in the different study populations was illustrated using a Principal Component Analysis (PCA).

RESULTS:

Older adults with GI symptoms displayed significantly higher levels of both zonulin and psychological distress than both general older adults and senior orienteering athletes. The PCA analysis revealed a separation between senior orienteering athletes and older adults with GI symptoms and showed an association between GI symptoms, psychological distress and zonulin.

CONCLUSIONS:

Older adults with GI symptoms express increased plasma levels of zonulin, which might reflect an augmented intestinal permeability. In addition, this group suffer from higher psychological distress compared to general older adults and senior orienteering athletes. This relationship was further confirmed by a PCA plot, which illustrated an association between GI symptoms, psychological distress and intestinal permeability.

KEYWORDS:

Gastrointestinal symptoms; Intestinal barrier function; Older adults; Psychological distress

PMID:
29554871
PMCID:
PMC5859527
DOI:
10.1186/s12877-018-0767-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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