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The Microbial Metabolites, Short-Chain Fatty Acids, Regulate Colonic Treg Cell Homeostasis

Science  04 Jul 2013:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1241165

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Abstract

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) that express the transcription factor Foxp3 are critical for regulating intestinal inflammation. Candidate microbe approaches have identified bacterial species and strain-specific molecules that can affect intestinal immune responses, including species that modulate Treg responses. Because neither all humans nor mice harbor the same bacterial strains, we posited that more prevalent factors exist that regulate the number and function of colonic Tregs. We determined that short chain fatty acids (SCFA), gut microbiota-derived bacterial fermentation products, regulate the size and function of the colonic Treg pool and protect against colitis in a Ffar2(GPR43)-dependent manner in mice. Our study reveals that a class of abundant microbial metabolites underlies adaptive immune microbiota co-adaptation and promotes colonic homeostasis and health.

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