BackgroundEosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a food allergen driven disease that is accompanied by interleukin (IL) 13 overexpression and esophageal barrier dysfunction allowing transepithelial food allergen permeation. Nutraceuticals, such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that restore barrier function and increase immune fitness may be a promising tool in the management of EoE. Here, we investigated the effects of the SCFAs acetate, propionate, and butyrate on an IL-13-compromised human esophageal epithelial barrier, including the mechanisms involved.
MethodsAn air-liquid interface culture model of differentiated human EPC2-hTERT (EPC2) was used to study whether SCFAs could restore barrier function after IL-13-induced impairment. Esophageal epithelial barrier function was monitored by transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and FITC-dextran paracellular flux, and was further examined by qPCR and immunohistochemical analysis. G protein-coupled receptor (GPR) GPR41, GPR43, GPR109a, or histone deacetylase (HDAC) (ant)agonists were used to assess mechanisms of action of SCFAs.
ResultsIL-13 stimulation decreased TEER and increased FITC flux, which was counteracted by butyrate and propionate, but not acetate treatment. Barrier proteins FLG and DSG1 mRNA expression was upregulated following butyrate and propionate treatment, whereas expression of eosinophil chemoattractant CCL26 and protease CAPN14 was downregulated. Similarly, butyrate and propionate restored FLG and DSG1 protein expression. Similar effects were observed with an HDAC antagonist but not with GPR agonists.
ConclusionNutraceuticals butyrate and propionate restore the barrier function of esophageal epithelial cells after an inflammatory insult and may be of therapeutic benefit in the management of EoE.