Occludin and Zonulin are proteins of the tight junctions found between epithelial cells of the intestinal barrier. These proteins are gate keepers of the body, allowing only small amino acid nutrients to pass into the blood stream. When tight junction proteins are functioning properly, they prevent large molecules from crossing the intestinal barrier into the blood stream, where they can elicit an immune response.
As the gut becomes inflamed and breaks down during leaky gut, the immune system makes antibodies to zonulin and occludin. One way to evaluate leaky gut is to test for elevated zonulin-occludin antibodies. Because the blood-brain barrier also has zonulin and occludin, positive antibodies could indicate a leaky blood-brain barrier as well.
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