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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 Jun 15;302(12):G1405-15. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00543.2011. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

Butyrate suppresses colonic inflammation through HDAC1-dependent Fas upregulation and Fas-mediated apoptosis of T cells.

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Department of Biochemistry, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, Georgia 30912, USA.


Butyrate, an intestinal microbiota metabolite of dietary fiber, has been shown to exhibit protective effects toward inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis (UC) and inflammation-mediated colorectal cancer. Recent studies have shown that chronic IFN-γ signaling plays an essential role in inflammation-mediated colorectal cancer development in vivo, whereas genome-wide association studies have linked human UC risk loci to IFNG, the gene that encodes IFN-γ. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the butyrate-IFN-γ-colonic inflammation axis are not well defined. Here we showed that colonic mucosa from patients with UC exhibit increased signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) activation, and this STAT1 hyperactivation is correlated with increased T cell infiltration. Butyrate treatment-induced apoptosis of wild-type T cells but not Fas-deficient (Fas(lpr)) or FasL-deficient (Fas(gld)) T cells, revealing a potential role of Fas-mediated apoptosis of T cells as a mechanism of butyrate function. Histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) was found to bind to the Fas promoter in T cells, and butyrate inhibits HDAC1 activity to induce Fas promoter hyperacetylation and Fas upregulation in T cells. Knocking down gpr109a or slc5a8, the genes that encode for receptor and transporter of butyrate, respectively, resulted in altered expression of genes related to multiple inflammatory signaling pathways, including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), in mouse colonic epithelial cells in vivo. Butyrate effectively inhibited IFN-γ-induced STAT1 activation, resulting in inhibition of iNOS upregulation in human colon epithelial and carcinoma cells in vitro. Our data thus suggest that butyrate delivers a double-hit: induction of T cell apoptosis to eliminate the source of inflammation and suppression of IFN-γ-mediated inflammation in colonic epithelial cells, to suppress colonic inflammation.

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