Zonulin is a protein that acts like a glue to keep intestinal cells bound together. Intestinal cells are supposed to be lined up and connected to each other. When Zonulin is high it means the cells aren’t tightly together. Doctors and veterinarians refer to it as Leaky Gut Syndrome. The picture below shows cells lined up together in a healthy gut and cells with spaces from a leaky gut. Leaky gut happens gradually over time. Zonulin can help identify the level of leaky gut. Leaky Gut Syndrome has been associated with inflammation, an imbalance of healthy gut bacteria, and is a risk factor for food allergies and food sensitivities, such as a reaction to gluten.
Possible related symptoms of a Leaky Gut Syndrome include:
- Digestive issues such diarrhea, bloating, constipation, weight loss, changes in appetite, gas.
- Skin issues such as dry skin, hair loss, redness, rashes, scratching.
- Chewing, licking, or gnawing paws and paw pads.
Levels of Zonulin
- Normal: Zonulin levels of <9.0 mcg/mg are normal.
- Borderline: Zonulin levels of 9.0-10.0 mcg/mg may benefit from testing again in 3-6 months.
- High: Zonulin levels of >10.0 mcg/mg are associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Continue with current diet and lifestyle.
- Probiotics have been shown to improve good gut bacteria and may improve Zonulin levels.
- Consider a less processed dog food, such as a prescription or human grade dog food. If the antigliadin IgA is also high, consider a gluten free dog food.
- Minimize anxiety and stress.
- Avoid unnecessary medications such as antibiotics or exposure to toxins.
- Check inflammation. Consider anti-inflammatory supporting snacks such as blueberries, alfalfa, apples (no seeds), carrots, pumpkin, red pepper), or anti-inflammatory supplements. Reducing inflammation may decrease Zonulin.
- Test level of fecal inflammation with IPL inflammation test.
- Check overall health as obesity and type 2 diabetes may lead to increased inflammation.
Antigliadin IgA identifies an immune response to gluten and can let you know if your dog is eating gluten. Gliadin is a component of gluten. Your dog can only have a reaction to gluten if they are eating gluten. A reaction to gluten may be a contributing factor to Leaky Gut Syndrome, skin conditions, or other symptoms. Removing gluten can reduce Antigliadin IgA and Zonulin levels. Antigliadin IgA reactions are based on the level of gluten eaten. Fecal Antigliadin IgA testing is not used to diagnose gluten or wheat allergy, or celiac disease.
Levels of sIgA
- Normal: An antigliadin IgA level of <750 mcg/mg is considered normal.
- Borderline: An antigliadin IgA level of 750-900 mcg/mg may identify some reaction.
- High: An antigliadin IgA level of >900 mcg/mg is considered a strong reaction to gluten.
Intestinal Antibody Response to Gluten
- VCA Hospitals: Leaky Gut Syndrome in Dogs. www.vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/leaky-gut-syndrome-in-dogs
- Craig JM. Atopic dermatitis and the intestinal microbiota in humans and dogs. Vet Med Sci. 2016;2(2):95-105. Published 2016 Feb 23. doi:10.1002/vms3.24. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5645856/
- Grellet, A., et al., Influence of Breed Size, Age, Fecal Quality, and Enteropathogen Shedding on Fecal Calprotectin and Immunoglobulin A Concentrations in Puppies During the Weaning Period. J Vet Intern Med, 2016. 30(4): p. 1056-64.
- Xu, H., et al., Oral Administration of Compound Probiotics Improved Canine Feed Intake, Weight Gain, Immunity and Intestinal Microbiota. Front Immunol, 2019. 10: p. 666.