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Changes in serum zonulin in individuals with morbid obesity after weight-loss interventions: a prospective cohort study

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BACKGROUND: Zonulin is a biomarker of impaired intestinal permeability, which has been associated with various disorders. The primary aim was to study serum zonulin (s-zonulin) in individuals with morbid obesity before and after a conservative weight loss intervention followed by bariatric surgery. The secondary aims were to explore predictors of s-zonulin, and the associations between the changes of the predictors and changes in s-zonulin, and to compare the associations in the two treatment periods.

METHODS: Individuals with morbid obesity were included. Data before any weight loss interventions, after a 6 months' conservative weight loss intervention, and 6 months after bariatric surgery were used. S-zonulin was measured with an ELISA method from Immundiagnostik AB, Bensheim, Germany. Data were analysed with mixed models.

RESULTS: The mean body mass index was 42.1 kg/m2 (SD 3.8) at inclusion and was reduced to 38.7 kg/m2 (SD 3.8) and 29.8 kg/m2 (SD 3.8) after the conservative treatment and bariatric surgery respectively. S-zonulin was 63 ng/mL (SD 32) at inclusion and was reduced with 19 ng/ml (95% CI 12 to 26, p < 0.001) after conservative treatment and 11 ng/ml (95% CI 0 to 21, p = 0.04) after bariatric surgery. At inclusion, s-zonulin was significantly associated with factors including p-glucose (B = 2.21, 95% CI 1.09 to 3.33, p < 0.001), c-reactive protein (B = 1.02, 95% CI 0.45 to 1.58, p < 0.001) and the intake of proteins (B = 0.23, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.38, p = 0.003) and non-nutritive sweeteners (B = 0.68, 95% CI 0.19 to 1.17, p = 0.007). The reduction in s-zonulin after the conservative weight loss intervention was significantly associated with improvement in diarrhoea (B = 6.6, 95% CI  1.3 to 11.8, p = 0.02), HbA1c (B = 9.7, 95% CI 1.1 to 18.3, p = 0.03), p-glucose (B = 3.5, 95% CI 1.2 to 5.9, p = 0.004) and gamma-GT (B = 0.28, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.47, p = 0.004), but not associated with the change in body mass index (B = 0.9, 95% CI - 1.5 to 3.3, p = 0.46).

CONCLUSIONS: S-zonulin was markedly reduced after the conservative weight loss intervention, and further reduced after bariatric surgery. The reduction in s-zonulin was associated with improvement of diarrhoea, markers of glucose intolerance and liver disease, but not associated with the change in body mass index.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
JournalBMC Endocrine Disorders
Volume20
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)108
ISSN1472-6823
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Bariatric surgery, Diet interventions, Intestinal permeability, Obesity, Zonulin

ID: 61825232