Background: Gut microbiota affects host homeostasis and dysbiosis causes host diseases. Therefore, uncovering the sensing mechanism of bacterial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) may help us to understand the host-microbiota interaction both in physiological and nonphysiological conditions.
Summary: The colonic lumen is continually exposed to many kinds of chemicals, including beneficial and harmful compounds that are produced by gut microbiota in addition to ingested nutrients. In the mammalian colon SCFAs such as acetate, propionate and butyrate are produced by bacterial fermentation and reach about 100 mM under physiological conditions. In this decade, SCFA receptor genes and their expression in the intestine have been identified as free fatty acid receptor (FFA)2 and FFA3. The FFAs are located in colonic enteroendocrine L cells producing and releasing an insulinotropic hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and an anorectic hormone, peptide YY. Recent in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that SCFAs stimulate gut hormone secretion. Therefore, the SCFA-FFA signal is likely to be important for gut physiological functions.
Key message: Colonic epithelial cells express chemical receptors that detect the luminal contents, particularly bacterial metabolites, and may be involved in the host's energy metabolism via GLP-1 release, as well as the mucosal defense system.