BACKGROUND: The precise site of intestinal permeability changes in patients with coeliac and inflammatory bowel disease is unknown. AIMS: To design a non-invasive technique for the localisation of altered gastrointestinal permeability to 51chromium labelled EDTA (51CrEDTA). The method depends on comparing and defining concentration/time profiles in serum of a series of simultaneously ingested indicators with a well defined absorption site (3-0-methyl-D-glucose (jejunal indicator), 57cobalt labelled vitamin B12 (ileal indicator), and sulphasalazine (caecal-colonic indicator)) in relation to simultaneously ingested 51CrEDTA. SUBJECTS: Five normal controls, six patients with untreated coeliac disease, five with Crohn's ileitis, and five with pan-ulcerative colitis underwent study, which entailed the simultaneous ingestion of the above four test substances followed, during the next 24 hours, by timed serial collection of urine and serum for marker analysis. RESULTS: Urinary excretion of 51CrEDTA was significantly increased in all patient groups. Analysis of serum appearances and profiles of the markers suggested that the increased intestinal permeation of 51CrEDTA took place in the diseased jejunum in patients with coeliac disease, predominantly in the ileum in Crohn's disease and in the colon in the patients with pan-ulcerative colitis. CONCLUSION: A new non-invasive technique has been assessed that permits the localisation of the site of permeability changes with the gastrointestinal tract.
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