Aim: Paracrine interaction between macrophages and adipocytes in obese visceral fat tissues is thought to be a trigger of chronic inflammation. The immunomodulatory effect of the short chain fatty acid, butyric acid, has been demonstrated. We hypothesize that sodium butyrate (butyrate) attenuates inflammatory responses and lipolysis generated by the interaction of macrophages and adipocytes.
Methods: Using contact or transwell co-culture methods with differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes and RAW264.7 macrophages, we investigated the effects of butyrate on the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and the release of free glycerol, free fatty acids (FFAs) into the medium. We also examined the activity of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) and the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in co-cultured macrophages, as well as lipase activity and expression in co-cultured adipocytes.
Results: We found increased production of TNF-α, MCP-1, IL-6, and free glycerol, FFAs in the co-culture medium, and butyrate significantly reduced them. Butyrate inhibited the phosphorylation of MAPKs, the activity of NF-κB in co-cultured macrophages, and suppressed lipase activity in co-cultured adipocytes. Lipase inhibitors significantly attenuated the production of TNF-α, MCP-1 and IL-6 in the co-culture medium as effectively as butyrate. Butyrate suppressed the protein production of adipose triglyceride lipase, hormone sensitive lipase, and fatty acid-binding protein 4 in co-cultured adipocytes. Pertussis toxin, which is known to block GPR41 completely, inhibited the antilipolysis effect of butyrate.
Conclusion: Butyrate suppresses inflammatory responses generated by the interaction of adipocytes and macrophages through reduced lipolysis and inhibition of inflammatory signaling.