Intestinal Barrier and Permeability in Health, Obesity and NAFLD

Piero Portincasa, Leonilde Bonfrate, Mohamad Khalil, Maria De Angelis, Francesco Maria Calabrese, Mauro D’amato, David Q.H. Wang, Agostino Di Ciaula

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The largest surface of the human body exposed to the external environment is the gut. At this level, the intestinal barrier includes luminal microbes, the mucin layer, gastrointestinal motility and secretion, enterocytes, immune cells, gut vascular barrier, and liver barrier. A healthy intestinal barrier is characterized by the selective permeability of nutrients, metabolites, water, and bacterial products, and processes are governed by cellular, neural, immune, and hormonal factors. Disrupted gut permeability (leaky gut syndrome) can represent a predisposing or aggravating condition in obesity and the metabolically associated liver steatosis (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD). In what follows, we describe the morphological-functional features of the intestinal barrier, the role of major modifiers of the intestinal barrier, and discuss the recent evidence pointing to the key role of intestinal permeability in obesity/NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Intestine
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Metabolome
  • Microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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