Increased Intestinal Permeability in Relatives of Patients With Crohn's Disease Is Not Associated With Small Bowel Ulcerations.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS

Many first-degree relatives of patients with Crohn's disease (CD) have increased intestinal permeability. Video capsule endoscopy (VCE) is the most sensitive imaging test to identify small bowel mucosal lesions that could indicate subclinical CD. We aimed to estimate the association of increased intestinal permeability with small bowel ulcerations detectable by VCE in healthy first-degree relatives of patients with CD.

METHODS

We conducted a cross-sectional study of 223 healthy, asymptomatic first-degree relatives of patients with CD (parents, siblings, and children; 9-45 years old) enrolled at the University of Alberta between 2009 and 2012. Patients were given the lactulose and mannitol test to measure small bowel permeability; we used high-performance liquid chromatography to measure concentrations of lactulose and mannitol in urine samples (increased permeability defined as a ratio of lactulose/mannitol 0.025 or greater). Patients with increased permeability (n = 39) and randomly selected subjects with normal permeability (n = 59) were then examined by VCE for signs of small bowel inflammation and subclinical CD. The prevalence of small bowel lesions was compared among groups. We performed logistic regression analyses to estimate odds ratios for the association of small bowel ulcerations with intestinal permeability.

RESULTS

Among 223 first-degree relatives of patients with CD, 30% were found to have increased intestinal permeability; VCE examination found 24% of subjects to have 3 or more small bowel ulcers. Three or more small bowel ulcers were detected in 28% of patients with increased intestinal permeability and 20% of patients with normal intestinal permeability (P = .37). The adjusted odds ratio for the association of 3 or more small bowel ulcers with increased intestinal permeability was 1.5 (95% confidence interval, 0.6-3.8; P = .46).

CONCLUSIONS

Thirty percent of healthy, asymptomatic first-degree relatives of patients with CD have increased intestinal permeability. However, a strong association of small bowel ulceration seen on VCE with increased intestinal permeability was not observed.

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