Background and Objectives
: The causative factors or conditions leading to increased intestinal permeability (IIP) have only been partly elucidated, suggesting excessive zonulin release to be a key factor among them. Likewise, it is known that athletic activity predisposes individuals towards the development of IIP; however, little is understood about the nature of this phenomenon. We decided to test the actual coincidence between IIP and increased stool zonulin (ISZ) in actively training athletes. Materials and Methods
: We compared intestinal permeability tested with lactulose/mannitol differential absorption (lactulose/mannitol (L/M) test) and zonulin concentration in stool in 20 professional athletes (PRO), 9 amateur athletes (AMA), and 9 non-athletes (CTR). Results
: The results confirmed that professional athletic activity showed significant positive association with intestinal permeability. ISZ was observed exclusively in athletes (CTR vs. AMA vs. PRO, respectively, 0% vs. 22% vs. 55%), and its prevalence was significantly higher in PRO than CTR. When we divided the participants into four categories related to exceeding the upper reference limits for both tested parameters (ISZ + or − and IIP + or −), significant differences were found between CTR and PRO; however, no significant differences were found between CTR and AMA or AMA and PRO. Conclusions
: Our trial confirmed previous findings that professional athletic activity predisposes individuals to IIP. We also demonstrated that although ISZ was associated with intense training, there was no statistically significant association between ISZ and IIP in the tested group of professional athletes, which suggests the existence of additional mechanisms causing IIP.
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