The role of I-FABP as a biomarker of intestinal barrier dysfunction driven by gut microbiota changes in obesity

Eva Lau, Claudia Marques, Diogo Pestana, Mariana Santoalha, Davide Carvalho, Paula Freitas, Conceicao Calhau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Intestinal fatty-acid binding protein (I-FABP) is expressed in epithelial cells of the mucosal layer of the small intestine tissue. When intestinal mucosal damage occurs, I-FABP is released into the circulation and its plasma concentration increases. In the context of obesity, the gut barrier integrity can be disrupted by dietary fat while intestinal permeability increases. Objective: To investigate whether intestinal fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP) is a suitable plasma marker of intestinal injury and inflammation in obesity. Methods: Twelve male Wistar rats were randomly divided into two groups of six animals each: standard (St) and high-fat (HF) diet fed groups for 12 weeks. Results: HF fed animals developed obesity, insulin resistance and seemed to present increased plasma levels of proinflammatory cytokines (MCP-1 and IL1 beta). The gut microbiota composition of these animals was also altered, with lower number of copies of Bacteroidetes, Prevotella spp. and Lactobacillus spp., in comparison with those from St diet group. Fecal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) concentrations tended to be increased in HF fed animals. Intestinal expression of TLR4 seemed to be also increased in HF fed animals suggesting that HF diet-induced dysbiosis may be behind the systemic inflammation observed. However, in contrast to other intestinal inflammatory diseases, plasma I-FABP levels were decreased in HF fed rats whereas I-FABP expression in jejunum tended to be increased. Conclusions: HF diet-induced obesity is characterized by dysbiosis, insulin resistance and systemic inflammation. In this context, plasmatic I-FABP should not be used as a marker of the intestinal barrier dysfunction and the low-grade chronic inflammatory status.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2016


  • Gut microbiota
  • Inflammation
  • Intestinal fatty acid binding protein
  • Intestinal permeability
  • Obesity


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