Microbiota Metabolite Butyrate Differentially Regulates Th1 and Th17 Cells' Differentiation and Function in Induction of Colitis

Liang Chen, Mingming Sun, Wei Wu, Wenjing Yang, Xiangsheng Huang, Yi Xiao, Chunyan Ma, Leiqi Xu, Suxia Yao, Zhanju Liu, Yingzi Cong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Background: How the gut microbiota regulates intestinal homeostasis is not completely clear. Gut microbiota metabolite short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) have been reported to regulate T-cell differentiation. However, the mechanisms underlying SCFA regulation of T-cell differentiation and function remain to be investigated. Methods: CBir1, an immunodominant microbiota antigen, transgenic T cells were treated with butyrate under various T-cell polarization conditions to investigate butyrate regulation of T-cell differentiation and the mechanism involved. Transfer of butyrate-treated CBir T cells into Rag1-/- mice was performed to study the in vivo role of such T cells in inducing colitis. Results: Although butyrate promoted Th1 cell development by promoting IFN-γand T-bet expression, it inhibited Th17 cell development by suppressing IL-17, Rorα, and Rorγt expression. Interestingly, butyrate upregulated IL-10 production in T cells both under Th1 and Th17 cell conditions. Furthermore, butyrate induced T-cell B-lymphocyte-induced maturation protein 1 (Blimp1) expression, and deficiency of Blimp1 in T cells impaired the butyrate upregulation of IL-10 production, indicating that butyrate promotes T-cell IL-10 production at least partially through Blimp1. Rag1-/- mice transferred with butyrate-treated T cells demonstrated less severe colitis, compared with transfer of untreated T cells, and administration of anti-IL-10R antibody exacerbated colitis development in Rag-/- mice that had received butyrate-treated T cells. Mechanistically, the effects of butyrate on the development of Th1 cells was through inhibition of histone deacetylase but was independent of GPR43. Conclusions: These data indicate that butyrate controls the capacity of T cells in the induction of colitis by differentially regulating Th1 and Th17 cell differentiation and promoting IL-10 production, providing insights into butyrate as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1450-1461
Number of pages12
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • IL-10
  • Th1 cells
  • Th17 cells
  • butyrate
  • colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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