Butyrate enhances major histocompatibility complex class I, HLA-DR and ICAM-1 antigen expression on differentiated human intestinal epithelial cells

Eur J Clin Invest. 1996 Sep;26(9):803-10. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2362.1996.2180561.x.


Besides its metabolic role, butyrate, a by-product of colonic fermentation, can modulate colonocyte proliferation and the expression of various molecules. In inflammatory bowel diseases, epithelial cells express HLA class II molecules and may behave as antigen-presenting cells. This study was performed to characterize the effect of butyrate on major histocompatibility complex expression by human colonocytes in comparison with interferon-gamma. Five cell lines displaying different differentiation features were analysed for antigen expression by flow cytofluorimetry. All lines expressed class I antigens, whereas only SW 1116 cells express HLA-DR. On these cells, butyrate and interferon-gamma strongly enhanced HLA-DR and ICAM-1 expression, whereas a mild increase in class I antigens was noted. Moreover, an increase in class I antigens was observed on two other differentiated cell lines, and it was synergistic with interferon-gamma. Butyrate, by its modulation of HLA-DR, ICAM-1 and HLA class I expression, may act on antigen presentation and, thus, influence some inflammatory processes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / pharmacology
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Butyrates / pharmacology*
  • Butyric Acid
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / biosynthesis*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis*
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Intestines / cytology
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex
  • Propionates / pharmacology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Acetates
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Butyrates
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Propionates
  • Butyric Acid
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Interferon-gamma