Effects of Central Obesity on Esophageal Epithelial Barrier Function

Ying Y Gibbens, Ramona Lansing, Michele L Johnson, Christopher H Blevins, David A Katzka, Prasad G Iyer
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2021 July 1, 116 (7): 1537-1541

INTRODUCTION: We assessed if obesity perturbs the esophageal epithelial barrier function independent of promotion of gastroesophageal reflux (GER).

METHODS: Thirty-eight participants were divided into 4 groups: Obesity-/GER-, Obesity+/GER-, Obesity-/GER+, and Obesity+/GER+. Esophageal intercellular space and desmosome density (structural integrity) and fluorescein leak (functional integrity) were measured.

RESULTS: The Obesity+/GER- group demonstrated increased intercellular space, reduced desmosome density, and increased fluorescein leak compared with control subjects. These changes were similar but not additive to findings seen in Obesity-/GER + and Obesity+/GER+ patients.

DISCUSSION: Central obesity impairs structural and functional integrity of the esophageal barrier independent of GER, likely predisposing to esophageal injury.

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