Background: Levels of zonulin, a surrogate marker of intestinal permeability, are elevated in various disorders including insulin resistance, obesity, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. We aimed to elucidate the association of zonulin levels and metabolic syndrome (MS) in renal transplant recipients.
Methods: Seventy-nine renal transplant recipients were enrolled. Diagnosis of MS was established employing the Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) criteria. Serum zonulin level was determined using the double antibody sandwich ELISA method.
Results: MS was encountered in 37 (41.6%) of the 79 patients. Serum zonulin level was significantly higher in patients with MS compared to those without MS (p < 0.001). Serum zonulin level correlated with presence of MS (r: 739, p < 0.001), abdominal obesity (r: 514, p < 0.001), fasting glucose level (r: 361, p: 0.001), presence of fasting glucose/diabetes criterion of MS (r: 316, p: 0.005), presence of low HDL criterion of MS (r: 266, p: 0.018), and BMI (r: 527, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: A Zonulin-mediated increase in intestinal permeability may play a role in the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome. We propose that zonulin may be a suitable surrogate marker of MS in renal transplant recipients.