Background & aims: Dietary fiber has been proven to be beneficial in maintaining remission in human ulcerative colitis, an effect related with an increased luminal production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). The aim of the present study was to further investigate the mechanisms involved in the intestinal anti-inflammatory effects of dietary fiber in an experimental model of rat colitis.
Methods: HLA-B27 transgenic rats (8-10 weeks old) were fed a fiber-supplemented diet (5% Plantago ovata seeds) for 13 weeks before evaluation of the colonic inflammatory status, both histologically and biochemically. The luminal colonic production of SCFA was quantified. In vitro studies were also performed to test the interaction between two SCFA (butyrate and propionate) as inhibitors of cytokine production in THP-1 cells.
Results: Dietary fiber supplementation ameliorated the development of colonic inflammation in transgenic rats as evidenced by an improvement of intestinal cytoarchitecture. This effect was associated with a decrease in some of the pro-inflammatory mediators involved in the inflammatory process: nitric oxide, leukotriene B(4), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha). The intestinal contents from fiber-treated colitic rats showed a significant higher production of SCFA, butyrate and propionate, than non-treated colitic animals. In vitro studies revealed a synergistic inhibitory effect of butyrate and propionate on TNFalpha production.
Conclusions: Dietary fiber supplementation ameliorated colonic damage in HLA-B27 transgenic rats. This effects was associated with an increased production of SCFA, which can act synergistically in inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory mediators.