OBJECTIVE: Gut barrier is a functional unit organized as a multi-layer system and its multiple functions are crucial for maintaining gut homeostasis. Numerous scientific evidences showed a significant association between gut barrier leaking and gastro-intestinal/extra-intestinal diseases. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this review we focus on the relationship between gut barrier leaking and human health. At the same time we speculate on the possible new role of gut barrier protectors in enhancing and restoring gut barrier physiology with the final goal of promoting gut health. RESULTS: The alteration of the equilibrium in gut barrier leads to the passage of the luminal contents to the underlying tissues and thus into the bloodstream, resulting in the activation of the immune response and in the induction of gut inflammation. This permeability alteration is the basis for the pathogenesis of many diseases, including infectious enterocolitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, celiac disease, hepatic fibrosis, food intolerances and also atopic manifestations. Many drugs or compounds used in the treatment of gastrointestinal disease are able to alter the permeability of the intestinal barrier. Recent data highlighted and introduced the possibility of using gelatin tannate, a mucosal barrier protector, for an innovative approach in the management of intestinal diseases, allowing an original therapeutic orientation with the aim of enhancing mucus barrier activity and restoring gut barrier. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest how the mucus layer recovering, beside the gut microbiota modulation, exerted by gut barrier protectors could be a useful weapon to re-establish the physiological intestinal homeostasis after an acute and chronic injury.
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