The connection between leaky gut, inflammation and many autoimmune diseases


Earlier we have talked about leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability, intestinal barrier, evidences of intestinal permeability, triggering factors.
Here we are discussing the connection between leaky gut, inflammation and many autoimmune diseases.

Leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability

We have mentioned earlier article that due to increase of intestinal permeability large molecules including food molecules, bacteria, toxins can trespass the barrier and enter into the blood stream. From there they can travel to different tissues/organs and creates many health problems. As those are not supposed to be there you immune system identify them as foreign invader. So immune system becomes high alert and thus produces antibodies against them. Some foods identified as healthy in normal situation can also become unhealthy if cross the barrier with larger molecule without properly breaking down. Human tissues also have proteins, antigens with similar structure to those food particles, bacteria, parasites and other pathogens. In such condition your immune system also mistakes such own tissue as foreign invaders and begins to attack own tissue. If such condition continues inflammation becomes chronic. And in that way chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease can trigger.

Researchers had evidenced increased intestinal permeability as well as found link of intestinal permeability with long list of chronic inflammatory conditions, allergies and autoimmune diseases, involving diverse organs, only few of them we are mentioning here.

The connection between leaky gut, inflammation and many autoimmune diseases

Gut disease

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) a common disorder that affects the large intestine with symptoms like abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation. On the other hand inflammatory bowel disease or IBD stands for inflammatory disease. Celiac disease a digestive disorder is triggered by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Also celiac disease affects wide range of other area.

Inflammation in gut, intestinal permeability is linked with various diseases related to gastro intestinal tract including IBS, Inflammatory bowel disease (crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis) celiac disease. An increased intestinal permeability promotes the exposition to intestinal content and triggers an immunological response and thus promotes intestinal inflammation.(1,2,3,4)

Liver disease

Gut liver axis, intestinal function also plays important roles in liver functions and liver diseases.

A common concern as excessive alcoholic consumption increases intestinal permeability and also can lead to alcoholic liver diseases through increased intestinal permeability. Liver cirrhosis is also associated with increased intestinal permeability. (5) Hepatic Encephalopathy i.e. brain dysfunction of liver disease with symptoms like confusion, speech and sleep problems, forgetfulness, altered behavior is associated with increased intestinal permeability.(6)

Intestinal microbiota also play many roles and may contribute to progression of chronic liver damage. Dysbiosis i.e. imbalance of gut bacteria involves with immune-inflammatory disorder, increases intestinal permeability and further leads to development of liver damage and liver cirrhosis. (7)


In type 1 diabetes an autoimmune disease, immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. And thus the pancreas your body is unable to produce insulin. Study evidenced increased intestinal permeability is associated with type 1 diabetes. (8)

Data also indicates that toxins derived from gut may contribute inflammation in insulin-resistant states in patients of type 2 diabetes. And increased gut derived inflammation had been observed in type 2 diabetic patients. Study also observed increased level of zonulin which is an indicator of abnormal intestinal permeability in blood of type 2 diabetic patients.(9)


Thyroiditis is one frequently associated autoimmune disease with type 1 diabetes. Growing evidences indicates association of leaky gut as well as role of bacterial imbalance with autoimmune thyroiditis. (10,11, 12)

Behavioral dysfunctions

Increased intestinal permeability not only allows toxins, bacteria but also large food molecules which does not pass normally to enter in blood circulation. Study evidenced connection between intestinal permeability and disease of behavioral dysfunctions. Kids with autism has shown close relation to some food proteins, toxins as well as increased intestinal permeability. Alterations of intestinal barrier was seen in patients with autism spectrum disorders and also in their first-degree relatives.(13) In a study published in ACTA Paediatrica found that 43% of autistic children had intestinal permeability. (14)

The-connection-between-leaky-gut-inflammation-and many-autoimmune-diseases

Psychiatric disorder

Psychiatric disorder like depression is associated with increased oxidative stress, inflammation, abnormal immune reaction. (15, 16) Patients with depression had shown higher level of antibodies against toxin from gut bacteria. People with depression may also for check intestinal permeability. (17)

Joint disease/Arthritis

Intestinal permeability has also shown its presence in inflammatory arthritic condition including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis. Gut bacteria also exerts a profound effect on the body’s immune system, both locally as well as at distant sites.(18, 19, 20, 21)

Inflammation and aging

Increased intestinal permeability promotes inflammation and inflammation promotes many chronic diseases including age related disorder. Toxins, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress are key player in development of age related disorder. Data from Two cohorts of healthy adults suggest that a leaky gut may play a critical role in the development of age-related inflammation and disability. (22)

Neurodegenerative disease

Toxins are believed to take participation in the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Multiple sclerosis (MS) an autoimmune disease with abnormal immune also co occurs with celiac disease affects the central nervous system and brain function. Also multiple sclerosis (MS) patients may have an increased risk of coacquisition of Crohn’s disease. Antibody against toxin generated from gut bacteria has been observed in patients of MS. And also MS may be triggered by bacterial toxins. Which indicate entry of gut bacteria or toxins through intestinal barrier with increased permeability. Researchers observed increased Intestinal Permeability in MS and also aging neurodegenerative disorder Parkinson’s disease. (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29)

Chronic Fatigue

Researchers found higher antibodies significantly against toxin from gut bacteria in blood of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue is also associated with abnormal immune reaction, increased oxidative stress and increased intestinal permeability. (30, 31)

Heart Disease

Gut derived endotoxins induce inflammation and is associated with insulin resistance and atherosclerosis or narrowing artery. Which further increase risk of the coronary heart disease. Recent study had shown patients with heart disease had higher serum zonulin and endotoxins levels than healthy people. They are indicating further research into the role played by intestinal permeability and endotoxemia not only in coronary heart disease but also in lifespan modulation . (32)

Bottom Line

Above list includes only few. Many diseases have shown to have multi directional factors.  Intestinal permeability appears as precursor to long list of diseases and condition. Leaky gut can also cause mal-absorption of nutrients and nutrition deficiency. Over all those data indicates one most basic part of a good health is the health of gut. If you have unhealthy gut, you will be exposed to many diseases. Anyone who are seeking good health or restore health, can start from gut health. In coming articles we will come with leaky gut testing, symptoms as well as healing and restoration of leaky gut.

Disclaimer:Above article is for informational purpose only
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Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


3 Responses

  1. A very important and relevant post. It appears that gut bacteria plays important role in many diseases. Question is leaky gut the cause or effect of any pathophysiology mentioned.

    1. Intestinal permeability appears as precursor, prior to many disorders, a causative factor as it is like opening the gate to the enemies, which is triggered by some other factors,dysbiosis or imbalance of gut bacteria is one factor, I am coming shortly with details with those

  2. Hi. Very interesting content but it’s hard to find in search results.
    You are out of google’s top ten, so you can’t expect big traffic.
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