The gut mucosal epithelium is one of the largest organs in the body and plays a critical role in regulating the crosstalk between the resident microbiome and the host. To this effect, the tight control of what is permitted through this barrier is of high importance. There should be restricted passage of harmful microorganisms and antigens while at the same time allowing the absorption of nutrients and water. An increased gut permeability, or “leaky gut”, has been associated with a variety of diseases ranging from infections, metabolic diseases, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases to neurological conditions. Several factors can affect gut permeability, including cytokines, dietary components, and the gut microbiome. Here, we discuss how the gut microbiome impacts the permeability of the gut epithelial barrier and how this can be harnessed for therapeutic purposes.

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