Increased Serum Zonulin Levels as an Intestinal Permeability Marker in Autistic Subjects

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the serum levels of zonulin, which regulates tight junctions between enterocytes and is a physiological modulator controlling intestinal permeability, in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Study design

Serum zonulin levels were determined in 32 patients with ASD and 33 healthy controls using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The severity of ASD symptoms was assessed with the Childhood Autism Rating Scale.

Results

Serum zonulin levels were significantly higher in the patients with ASD (122.3 ± 98.46 ng/mL) compared with the healthy controls (41.89 ± 45.83 ng/mL). There was a positive correlation between zonulin levels and Childhood Autism Rating Scale score when all subjects were assessed (r = 0.523; P < .001).

Conclusions

This study suggests that zonulin, which regulates intestinal permeability, plays a role in the development of symptoms of ASD.

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