Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) ligands are important for gastrointestinal health and play a role in gut inflammation and the induction of T regulatory cells, and the short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) butyrate, propionate and acetate also induce similar protective responses. Initial studies with butyrate demonstrated that this compound significantly increased expression of Ah-responsive genes such as Cyp1a1/CYP1A1 in YAMC mouse colonocytes and Caco-2 human colon cancer cell lines. Butyrate synergistically enhanced AhR ligand-induced Cyp1a1/CYP1A1 in these cells with comparable enhancement being observed for 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and also microbiota-derived AhR ligands tryptamine, indole and 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoic acid (DHNA). The effects of butyrate on enhancing induction of Cyp1b1/CYP1B1, AhR repressor (Ahrr/AhRR) and TCDD-inducible poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (Tiparp/TiPARP) by AhR ligands were gene- and cell context-dependent with the Caco-2 cells being the most responsive cell line. Like butyrate and propionate, the prototypical hydroxyamic acid-derived histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors Panobinostat and Vorinostat also enhanced AhR ligand-mediated induction and this was accompanied by enhanced histone acetylation. Acetate also enhanced basal and ligand-inducible Ah responsiveness and histone acetylation, demonstrating that acetate was an HDAC inhibitor. These results demonstrate SCFA-AhR ligand interactions in YAMC and Caco-2 cells where SCFAs synergistically enhance basal and ligand-induced expression of AhR-responsive genes.
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