Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) alone or in combination regulate select immune functions of microglia-like cells

Tyler J Wenzel, Ellen J Gates, Athena L Ranger, Andis Klegeris
Molecular and Cellular Neurosciences 2020 April 22, : 103493
Neuroinflammation contributes to neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Gut microbes are involved in regulating systemic inflammation. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are among the many metabolites released by gut microbes, can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and interact with microglia. High concentrations of individual SCFAs decrease the inflammatory responses of peripheral monocytes; therefore, we hypothesized that SCFAs act on their own or in combinations to reduce the inflammatory response of microglia. Cultured human THP-1 monocytic cells and differentiated human HL-60 myelomonocytic cells were used to model select immune functions of human microglia. Acetate, propionate, butyrate, formate, and valerate were added to cells alone or as a mixture containing SCFAs at an approximate physiological concentration ratio. The SCFA mixture, as well as several individual SCFAs at the highest concentrations used in the mixture (15-236 μM), decreased the secretion of interleukin (IL)-1β, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and cytotoxins by immune-stimulated THP-1 cells. GLPG 0974, a free fatty acid receptor (FFAR) 2/3 antagonist, did not block the inhibitory effect of the SCFA mixture on IL-1β secretion by THP-1 cells while blocking the inhibitory effect of formate alone. We demonstrated that formate and valerate alone reduced the phagocytic activity of immune-stimulated THP-1 cells. Formate, but not valerate, alone also inhibited the N-formylmethionine-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP)-induced respiratory burst of HL-60 cells, reducing the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Our data indicate that SCFAs could regulate select microglial functions that are disrupted in AD.

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