Redirection of Epithelial Immune Responses by Short-Chain Fatty Acids through Inhibition of Histone Deacetylases

May Young Lin, Marcel R de Zoete, Jos P M van Putten, Karin Strijbis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are products of microbial fermentation that are important for intestinal epithelial health. Here, we describe that SCFAs have rapid and reversible effects on toll-like receptor (TLR) responses in epithelial cells. Incubation of HEK293 or HeLa epithelial cells with the SCFAs butyrate or propionate at physiological concentrations enhanced NF-κB activation induced by TLR5, TLR2/1, TLR4, and TLR9 agonists. NF-κB activation in response to tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) was also increased by SCFAs. Comparative transcript analysis of HT-29 colon epithelial cells revealed that SCFAs enhanced TLR5-induced transcription of TNFα but dampened or even abolished the TLR5-mediated induction of IL-8 and monocyte chemotactic protein 1. SCFAs are known inhibitors of histone deacetylases (HDACs). Butyrate or propionate caused a rapid increase in histone acetylation in epithelial cells, similar to the small molecule HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA). TSA also mimicked the effects of SCFAs on TLR-NF-κB responses. This study shows that bacterial SCFAs rapidly alter the epigenetic state of host cells resulting in redirection of the innate immune response and selective reprograming of cytokine/chemokine expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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