The following article requires a subscription:



(Format: HTML, PDF)

Production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in the intestinal lumen may play an important role in the maintenance of the intestinal barrier. However, overproduction/accumulation of SCFA in the bowel may be toxic to the intestinal mucosa and has been hypothesized to play a role in the pathogenesis of neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). By using a Caco-2 cell monolayer model of intestinal barrier, we report here that the effect of butyrate on the intestinal barrier is paradoxical. Butyrate at a low concentration (2 mM) promotes intestinal barrier function as measured by a significant increase in transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) and a significant decrease in inulin permeability. Butyrate at a high concentration (8 mM) reduces TER and increases inulin permeability significantly. Butyrate induces apoptosis and reduces the number of viable Caco-2 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Intestinal barrier function impairment induced by high concentrations of butyrate is most likely related to butyrate-induced cytotoxicity due to apoptosis. We conclude that the effect of butyrate on the intestinal barrier is paradoxical; i.e. whereas low concentrations of butyrate may be beneficial in promoting intestinal barrier function, excessive butyrate may induce severe intestinal epithelial cell apoptosis and disrupt intestinal barrier.

(C) International Pediatrics Research Foundation, Inc. 2007. All Rights Reserved.