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Tight junctions, leaky intestines, and pediatric diseases


Josef Neu, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, University of Florida College of Medicine, PO Box 100296, Gainesville FL 32610, USA. Tel: +1 352 392 3020. Fax: +1 352 846 3937. E-mail:


Background: Tight junctions (TJs) represent the major barrier within the paracellular pathway between intestinal epithelial cells. Disruption of TJs leads to intestinal hyperpermeability (the so-called “leaky gut”) and is implicated in the pathogenesis of several acute and chronic pediatric disease entities that are likely to have their origin during infancy. Aim: This review provides an overview of evidence for the role of TJ breakdown in diseases such as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, allergies, asthma, and autism.

Conclusion: A better basic understanding of this structure might lead to prevention or treatment of these diseases using nutritional or other means.