‘Leaky gut syndrome’ with IBD
Prof. Christer Hogstrand

'Leaky gut syndrome' with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Guts UK is delighted to announce that we will be awarding Prof. Christer Hogstrand and the team at King’s College London £49,999.54 for their research into ‘leaky gut syndrome’.

What is ‘leaky gut syndrome’?

The gut has many functions. One important function is to act as a barrier for our body, against harmful bacteria or other harmful agents. The inside layer of the bowel has a thin coating of cells. These cells are tightly bonded together, acting as a seal. Sometimes, these tight bonds can become looser and the bowel can become more porous (meaning liquid can pass through easier). This is known as ‘leaky gut’.

‘Leaky gut’ can happen in those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD – Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or microscopic colitis).

What do we know already?

The bowel wall also has sensors for different components of our food. One of these is called the ‘Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor’ (AHR). When these sensors attach to specific substances in our food, the AHR become activated. It is thought that AHR then communicates with the tight bonds in the bowel (mentioned earlier) and our immune system, to help keep the bowel healthy.

Prof. Hogstrand’s earlier research suggests that AHR can do this by letting the mineral, zinc into the cells. The zinc then improves the seal of the tight bonds in the bowel, but the levels of zinc are often low in people with IBD. 

What else do we hope to discover?

The team want to investigate how AHR activators (which you can find in plant-based food) and zinc may work together to form these tight bonds in the bowel. The team will use stem-cells from human donors and will create ‘mini-bowels’ in a culture dish. They will then stimulate these ‘mini-bowels’ with zinc and AHR activators and study how these may improve the tight bonds in the bowel.

What potential does this research have for patients and future treatments?

Once researchers can fully understand how these tight bonds in the bowel develop, this research could lead to a new way to control and prevent ‘leaky gut’.

“Guts UK’s funding will allow us to study this interaction in more detail. We hope this will help us develop new treatments that could greatly improve the quality of life for people with ‘leaky gut’ and IBD.”

Guts UK have funded almost 80 projects into Inflammatory Bowel Disease. But the rate in which IBD is diagnosed is increasing. Guts UK’s research leads to earlier diagnosis, kinder treatments and ultimately, a cure.

Guts UK is the only UK charity funding research into the digestive system from top to tail. Our research has the capacity to save lives. Your donations make it possible. Help the UK get to grips with guts by donating to Guts UK today.

Discover more:

> Timings & Scientific Title

Prof. Christer Hogstrand • King’s College London • Awarded £49,999.54 from Guts UK

Timings: TBC

Scientific title: Targeting ‘Leaky Gut’ with combined dietary zinc and plant derived Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor agonists.