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Plasma concentrations of zonulin are elevated in obese men with fatty liver disease

Authors Kim AS, Ko HJ

Received 19 January 2018

Accepted for publication 13 March 2018

Published 23 April 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 149—157

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DMSO.S163062

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Ming-Hui Zou


A-Sol Kim,1,2 Hae-Jin Ko1,3

1Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea; 2Department of Family Medicine, Kyungpook National University Chilgok Hospital, Daegu, South Korea; 3Department of Family Medicine, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Daegu, South Korea

Purpose: Zonulin is considered as a biomarker of increased intestinal permeability. The relationship between intestinal permeability and obesity is known, and many studies have investigated the relationship between intestinal permeability and liver disease. Thus, we aimed to investigate the potential association between plasma zonulin concentrations and fatty liver in obese men.
Patients and methods: A total of 140 obese men without inflammatory bowel diseases, autoimmune diseases, and severe liver diseases were included. The subjects were divided into three groups: normal, mild fatty liver, and moderate-to-severe fatty liver, according to abdominal ultrasonography findings. We subdivided the subjects into two subgroups based on the amount of alcohol consumption (appropriate drinking and hazardous drinking), and subgroup analyses were performed.
Results: The mean plasma zonulin concentrations (ng/mL) in the normal, mild fatty liver, and moderate-to-severe fatty liver groups were 0.618, 2.143, and 5.815, respectively (P<0.001). A multivariate multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed an odds ratio (OR) of 1.77 (P=0.015) in the moderate-to-severe fatty liver group. The median plasma zonulin concentrations (ng/mL) in the appropriate drinking subgroup of the fatty liver groups were 0.002, 0.500, and 6.550, respectively (P-trend<0.001), and in the hazardous drinking subgroup were 0.002, 0.590, and 5.800, respectively (P-trend=0.001). The ORs for moderate-to-severe fatty liver were 1.91 (P=0.039) in the appropriate drinking group and 1.56 (P=0.045) in the hazardous drinking group.
Conclusion: Plasma zonulin concentrations were elevated among obese men. A significant association was found between zonulin concentrations and severity of fatty liver.

Keywords: zonulin, intestinal permeability, fatty liver, obesity

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