The human gut microbiota is inextricably linked to health and disease. One important function of the commensal organisms living in the intestine is to provide colonization resistance against invading enteric pathogens. Because of the complex nature of the interaction between the microbiota and its host, multiple mechanisms likely contribute to resistance. In this review, we dissect the biological role of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are fermentation end products of the intestinal microbiota, in host-pathogen interactions. SCFA exert an extensive influence on host physiology through nutritional, regulatory, and immunomodulatory functions and can also affect bacterial fitness as a form of acid stress. Moreover, SCFA act as a signal for virulence gene regulation in common enteric pathogens. Taken together, these studies highlight the importance of the chemical environment where the biology of the host, the microbiota, and the pathogen intersects, which provides a basis for designing effective infection prevention and control.
Keywords: Gut microbiota; Short-chain fatty acids; Virulence gene regulation.
© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.