Tag Archives: Autistic Enterocolitis

Leaky gut aka intestinal permeability

18 Aug

Leaky Gut syndrome is a hypothesis associated with autism by people who believe that toxins (particularly those caused by vaccines – notably the MMR) weakens the lining of the bowel letting various rubbish thorough (undigested food, toxins, whatever) and triggering an immune response and/or leading to Wakefield’s much-hyped but never backed up Autistic Enterocolitis.

This unverified condition has (of course) been found by any number of Wakefield supporters and yet, curiously, no researchers external to Wakefield’s peers have found any evidence for it and the phrase exists as a diagnosis within that AltMed community.

In fact, its not curious at all as the only groups that _did_ find evidence for ‘Autistic Enterocolitis’ used the now discredited Unigentics lab run by John O’Leary.

Anyway, in Feb of this year a team from the University of Calgary published a Pilot study into the ‘leaky gut’ (posh name: ‘intestinal permeability’) issue.

They enrolled 14 autistic kids (all of whom had parents who reported gastric issues), 7 NT siblings of these kids, and 8 NT non-related controls.

In the ‘leaky gut’ opioid-excess theory, it is proposed that increased intestinal permeability in children allows for increased absorption of dietary peptides, which ultimately leads to disruption of neuroregulatory mechanisms and normal brain development.

The reason for choosing autistic kids who were reported by parents to have gastric issues is that the researchers reasoned that these kids would be more likely to have ‘abnormal gastrointestinal tests’.

In this population, the researchers found:

we neither demonstrate abnormal small intestinal permeability, nor abnormal postprandial responses of the enteroendocrine peptide GLP-2.


It has been suggested that increased permeability may be causally related to the onset of the inflammatory bowel disease and not just a consequence of inflammation. Our data does not support a similar hypothesis in autism.


Our study did not detect differences in the functional gastrointestinal parameters measured in a group of children with autism. Although there may be a subset of children with autism with a specific gastrointestinal abnormality there is no firm evidence yet of a role for gastrointestinal dysfunction in
the etiology of autism.

One of the things the authors reported that struck me was:

The subtle endoscopic and histological findings of lymphonodular hyperplasia in the colon and ileum previously described in ‘‘autistic enterocolitis’’ (Wakefield et al. 1998, 2005) are also seen in normally developing children with similar gastrointestinal symptoms (Furlano et al. 2001).

This is only a pilot study of course so not too much can be read into the results but if the study is expanded upon and replicated then the results would be interesting to see. Its certainly a smallish spanner in the works of the ‘autistic enterocolitis’ believers.