Zonulin is a protein made by the human body that appears to impact the development of auto-immune diseases as well as those that involve blood-brain dysfunctions such as multiple sclerosis, HIV infection, and brain tumors. Zonulin acts as a gate-keeper for brain and body tissues. It can open junctions between cells known as zonula occludens, allowing some substances to pass through that ordinarily would be stopped. Exposure to gluten can increase Zonulin levels in patients with celiac disease allowing substances to pass thorugh the walls of the inestines. This phenomenon has been shown to occur not only in the intestines but also in the blood-brain barrier, a collection of tightly packed endothelial cells that line the blood vessels of the brain and prevent some substances in the blood from entering the brain while allowing others to pass through. Zonulin can bind with receptors in the B-B barrier and open the gates between cells in the blood vessels allowing some substances to pass through. (Korn, Dana, with contributions by Michelle Maria Pietzak MD, and Alessio Fasano MD. Wheat Free - Worry Free. p 333-340. CA: Hay House, 2002.)

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