The level of the zonulin antigen in stool may provide a noninvasive indication of intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”). Research to date has identified zonulin as the only physiologically reversible regulator of permeability of the GI endothelial cell barrier. Numerous studies have shown that a chronically high release of zonulin from the GI epithelial cells is associated with Celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), Diabetes, chronic hyperglycemia, cigarette smoking and other GI and systemic autoimmune and pro-inflammatory conditions.
In a healthy GI tract, the tight junction protein complexes between endothelial cells prevent unregulated influx of luminal contents. However, specific triggers, such as gliadin for people with celiac disease or NCGS, can lead to high levels of zonulin in the GI tract. This can induce the breakdown of the tight junctions, leading to excessive paracellular influx of pro-inflammatory and highly antigenic macromolecules.
As a result, an elevated level of the zonulin antigen in stool is a clinically useful biomarker of intestinal permeability. What's more, it can be valuable for monitoring therapeutic interventions as well. Fecal zonulin can be ordered as a stand-alone test or as an add-on to a Comprehensive Stool Analysis.
4 to 6 days
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