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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Immunology - Infectious Diseases - Microbiology - Molecular Biology - Nutrition

Modulation of Antimicrobial Host Defense Peptide Gene Expression by Free Fatty Acids
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Author: Lakshmi T. Sunkara et al.

by Lakshmi T. Sunkara, Weiyu Jiang, Guolong Zhang

Routine use of antibiotics at subtherapeutic levels in animal feed drives the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Development of antibiotic-alternative approaches to disease control and prevention for food animals is imperatively needed. Previously, we showed that butyrate, a major species of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) fermented from undigested fiber by intestinal microflora, is a potent inducer of endogenous antimicrobial host defense peptide (HDP) genes in the chicken (PLoS One 2011, 6: e27225). In the present study, we further revealed that, in chicken HD11 macrophages and primary monocytes, induction of HDPs is largely in an inverse correlation with the aliphatic hydrocarbon chain length of free fatty acids, with SCFAs being the most potent, medium-chain fatty acids moderate and long-chain fatty acids marginal. Additionally, three SCFAs, namely acetate, propionate, and butyrate, exerted a strong synergy in augmenting HDP gene expression in chicken cells. Consistently, supplementation of chickens with a combination of three SCFAs in water resulted in a further reduction of Salmonella enteritidis in the cecum as compared to feeding of individual SCFAs. More importantly, free fatty acids enhanced HDP gene expression without triggering proinflammatory interleukin-1ß production. Taken together, oral supplementation of SCFAs is capable of boosting host immunity and disease resistance, with potential for infectious disease control and prevention in animal agriculture without relying on antibiotics.
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