Background: Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction with high mortality and morbidity
rate and with the disease progression many alterations are observed in different organs. The
gastrointestinal tract is often damaged during sepsis and septic shock and main symptoms are related
to increased permeability, bacterial translocation and malabsorption. These intestinal alterations
can be both cause and effect of sepsis.
Objective: The aim of this review is to analyze different pathways that lead to intestinal alteration
in sepsis and to explore the most common methods for intestinal permeability measurement and, at
the same time to evaluate if their use permit to identify patients at high risk of sepsis and eventually
to estimate the prognosis.
Material and Methods: The peer-reviewed articles analyzed were selected from PubMed databases
using the keywords “sepsis” “gut alteration”, “bowel permeability”, “gut alteration”, “bacterial
translocation”, “gut permeability tests”, “gut inflammation”. Among the 321 papers identified, 190
articles were selected, after title - abstract examination and removing the duplicates and studies on
pediatric population,only 105 articles relating to sepsis and gut alterations were analyzed.
Results: Integrity of the intestinal barrier plays a key role in the preventing of bacterial translocation
and gut alteration related to sepsis. It is obvious that this dysfunction of the small intestine can
have serious consequences and the early identification of patients at risk - to develop malabsorption
or already malnourished - is very recommended to increase the survivor rate. Until now, in critical
patients, the dosage of citrullinemia is easily applied test in clinical setting, in fact, it is relatively
easy to administer and allows to accurately assess the functionality of enterocytes.
Conclusion: The sepsis can have an important impact on the gastrointestinal function. In addition,
the alteration of the permeability can become a source of systemic infection. At the moment, biological
damage markers are not specific, but the dosage of LPS, citrulline, lactulose/mannitol test,
FABP and fecal calprotectin are becoming an excellent alternative with high specificity and sensitivity.