A high-sugar diet rapidly enhances susceptibility to colitis via depletion of luminal short-chain fatty acids in mice

Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 23;9(1):12294. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48749-2.


Western-style diets have been implicated in triggering inflammatory bowel disease activity. The aim of this study was to identify the effect of a short-term diet high in sugar on susceptibility to colitis. Adult wild-type mice were placed on chow or a high sugar diet (50% sucrose) ± acetate. After two days of diet, mice were treated with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) to induce colitis. Disease severity was assessed daily. Colonic tissues were analyzed for cytokine expression using the MesoScale discovery platform. Intestinal dextran permeability and serum lipopolysaccharide levels (LPS) were measured. Gut microbiota were analyzed by 16s rRNA sequencing and short chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations by gas chromatography. Bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) were incubated with LPS and cytokine secretion measured. Mice on a high sugar diet had increased gut permeability, decreased microbial diversity and reduced SCFA. BMDM derived from high sugar fed mice were highly responsive to LPS. High sugar fed mice had increased susceptibility to colitis and pro-inflammatory cytokine concentrations. Oral acetate significantly attenuated colitis in mice by restoring permeability. In conclusion, short term exposure to a high sugar diet increases susceptibility to colitis by reducing short-chain fatty acids and increasing gut permeability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Colitis / complications
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Colitis / pathology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dextran Sulfate
  • Diet*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Dysbiosis / complications
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Mice
  • Microbiota / drug effects
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Phylogeny
  • Sugars / adverse effects*


  • Acetates
  • Cytokines
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Sugars
  • Dextran Sulfate

Grant support