Polyethylene glycol versus dual sugar assay for gastrointestinal permeability analysis: is it time to choose?

K. van Wijck, B. A. Bessems, H.M.H. van Eijk, W.A. Buurman, C.H.C. Dejong, K. Lenaerts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Increased intestinal permeability is an important measure of disease activity and prognosis. Currently, many permeability tests are available and no consensus has been reached as to which test is most suitable. The aim of this study was to compare urinary probe excretion and accuracy of a polyethylene glycol (PEG) assay and dual sugar assay in a double-blinded crossover study to evaluate probe excretion and the accuracy of both tests. METHODS: Gastrointestinal permeability was measured in nine volunteers using PEG 400, PEG 1500, and PEG 3350 or lactulose-rhamnose. On 4 separate days, permeability was analyzed after oral intake of placebo or indomethacin, a drug known to increase intestinal permeability. Plasma intestinal fatty acid binding protein and calprotectin levels were determined to verify compromised intestinal integrity after indomethacin consumption. Urinary samples were collected at baseline, hourly up to 5 hours after probe intake, and between 5 and 24 hours. Urinary excretion of PEG and sugars was determined using high-pressure liquid chromatography-evaporative light scattering detection and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, respectively. RESULTS: Intake of indomethacin increased plasma intestinal fatty acid-binding protein and calprotectin levels, reflecting loss of intestinal integrity and inflammation. In this state of indomethacin-induced gastrointestinal compromise, urinary excretion of the three PEG probes and lactulose increased compared with placebo. Urinary PEG 400 excretion, the PEG 3350/PEG 400 ratio, and the lactulose/rhamnose ratio could accurately detect indomethacin-induced increases in gastrointestinal permeability, especially within 2 hours of probe intake. CONCLUSION: Hourly urinary excretion and diagnostic accuracy of PEG and sugar probes show high concordance for detection of indomethacin-induced increases in gastrointestinal permeability. This comparative study improves our knowledge of permeability analysis in man by providing a clear overview of both tests and demonstrates equivalent performance in the current setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-50
JournalClinical and experimental gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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