Short-chain fatty acids modulate gene expression for vascular endothelial cell adhesion molecules

Steven J. Miller, Gary P. Zaloga, A. M. Hoggatt, Carlos Labarrere, W. Page Faulk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Objective: Leukocyte infiltration into the intestinal wall is central to the pathogenesis of tissue injury that occurs in patients with a variety of inflammatory bowel diseases. Migration of leukocytes from the intestinal circulation into bowel tissues is mediated by chemotactic substances and adhesion molecules (i.e., intercellular adhesion molecule-1 [ICAM-1] and E-selectin) on the surface of endothelial cells lining blood vessels. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) derived from dietary fiber decrease inflammatory responses in colon cells. However, the effect of SCFAs on vascular adhesion molecules is unknown. We investigated the effects of SCFAs on vascular endothelial cell adhesion molecule expression. Methods: We assessed the effect of physiologically relevant concentrations of butyrate on expression of ICAM-1 protein and mRNA in cultures of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We also assessed the effect of butyrate on levels of HLA-DR, E-selectin, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and endoglin. In additional experiments, we evaluated the effect of butyrate on ICAM-1 mRNA stability and the effect of valerate, isobutyrate, and propionate on ICAM-1 expression. The effect of butyrate on ICAM-1 expression was compared with that of trichostatin A, a specific inhibitor of histone deacetylase. Data were evaluated with Student's t tests or Tukey's multiple comparison tests, with P < 0.05 considered statistically significant. Results: Butyrate concentrations of 2.5 to 5 mM significantly increased endothelial expressions of ICAM-1 protein and mRNA. The effect of butyrate (5 mM) on ICAM-1 expression was time dependent, with significant increases in levels occurring after 16 h of incubation. Butyrate (5 mM) also increased expression of E-selectin but not of HLA-DR, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, or endoglin. Isobutyrate had little effect on ICAM-1 expression, whereas valerate and propionate significantly increased expression of ICAM-1 but were weaker stimulants compared with butyrate. Butyrate (5 mM) did not alter stability of ICAM-1 mRNA. The effect of butyrate (5 mM) was comparable to that of trichostatin A. The stimulatory effect of butyrate on ICAM-1 expression was reversed after 48 h of butyrate withdrawal. Conclusions: Butyrate increases vascular endothelial expressions of ICAM-1 and E-selectin. We speculate that butyrate-induced effects on vascular adhesion molecules modulate gut inflammation. The role of SCFAs and fiber in the pathogenesis and modulation of gut inflammation in vivo requires further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-748
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005


  • Adhesion molecules
  • Butyrate
  • Endothelial
  • Fiber
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Nutrition
  • Short-chain fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Surgery
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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