Zonulin Level, a Marker of Intestinal Permeability, Is Increased in Association with Obesity-Related Metabolic Disturbance in Adolescents

Presentation Number: LB SAT 77
Date of Presentation: April 1st, 2017

Kyung Suk Baek1, Soo-Yeon Kim2, Kwang-Hyun Baek2, JI Hee Kim1, Ju Sun Hur1, Jung Hyun Kim3, Eun-Kyo Ha4, Chaeyeon Min4, Yoon-Ho Sheen1 and Kieun Kim*4
1CHA Gangnam Medical Center CHA University, SEOUL, Korea, Republic of (South), 2CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea, Republic of (South), 3Atmin Radiology and Health Promotion Center, SEOUL, Korea, Republic of (South), 4CHA Gangnam Medical Center CHA University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South)


Objective:Zonulin is acknowledged as the only physiological mediator established to reversibly regulate intestinal permeability through modulation of intercellular tight junctions. However, there is no data available regarding the association between circulating serum zonulin levels and obesity-related biomarkers in the adolescent population. We aimed to determine whether there is a difference in serum zonulin levels between overweight/obese and normal-weight adolescents and to assess the correlation of circulating zonulin levels with anthropometric measures and obesity-related biomarkers, such as liver enzyme levels, lipid profiles, and insulin resistance.

Methods:The study included 150 adolescents aged 12-13 years; 74 were overweight/obese and 76 were of normal-weight. We assessed anthropometric and laboratory measures, including body mass index (BMI), BMI z-score, blood pressure, liver enzyme levels, lipid profiles, and insulin sensitivity. Serum zonulin levels were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results: The mean age of the participants was 12.8±1.5 years. Circulating serum zonulin levels were significantly increased in overweight/obese participants compared with those in normal-weight participants (P=0.039). Zonulin levels were significantly and positively associated with BMI, BMI z-score, alanine aminotransferase levels, triglyceride, fasting insulin, and insulin resistance as indicated by the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (all P<0.05). In multivariate linear regression analysis, alanine aminotransferase (P<0.0001), triglyceride (P<0.0001), and HOMA-IR (P=0.001) contributed independently to circulating zonulin levels after controlling for the effect of BMI z-score.

Conclusions:Zonulin is a biomarker associated with metabolic disturbance. The positive correlation between these parameters suggests a potentially relevant pathophysiological mechanism linking zonulin to metabolic dysfunction in adolescents.


Nothing to Disclose: KSB, SYK, KHB, JHK, JSH, JHK, EKH, CM, YHS, KK