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Gut permeability is associated with hypertension and measures of obesity but not with Endothelial Dysfunction in South African youth

Ezona E Ntlahla
Mvuyisi MO Mfengu
Godwill A Engwa
Benedicta N Nkeh-Chungag
Constance R Sewani-Rusike


Background: Though gut permeability has shown to be associated with measures of obesity and hypertension, its relation- ship with endothelial dysfunction, an early predictor for cardiovascular diseases remains unknown.

Objective: This study assessed the relationship between hypertension, measures of obesity, gut permeability and endothelial dysfunction.

Methods: A cross-sectional quantitative study which enrolled 151 South African youths was conducted. Anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were performed. Zonulin, a marker for gut permeability; adiponectin, an anti-inflamma- tory molecule, as well as asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) and Nitric oxide (NO) which are markers for endothelial- function were assayed.

Results: Approximately eighteen percent (17.88%) of the participants were hypertensive while 40.4% were pre-hyperten- sive. Adiponectin significantly increased in hypertensive subjects and negatively correlated (p<0.05) with measures of obesity but was not associated with gut permeability and endothelial dysfunction. Increased body mass index (BMI) and visceral fat (VF) predicted reduced adiponectin (inflammation). Zonulin was significantly higher (p<0.05) in hypertensive subjects and positively associated (p<0.05) with systolic blood pressure (SBP) in females. A positive relationship (p<0.05) was observed between zonulin and measurements of obesity. Moreover, zonulin negatively associated (p<0.05) with ADMA but positively associated (p<0.05) with NO in males. Increased VF and waist circumference predicted gut permeability.

Conclusion: Gut permeability was associated with hypertension and measures of obesity but not with markers of endothe- lial dysfunction in a South African youth population.

Keywords: Gut permeability; hypertension; obesity; endothelial dysfunction; inflammation.

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eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905