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Butyrate inhibits cytokine-induced VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression in cultured endothelial cells: the role of NF-κB and PPARα

Danuta Zapolska-Downar a, c, Aldona Siennicka a, Mariusz Kaczmarczyk a, Blanka Koodziej b and Marek Naruszewicz , , a, c
a Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostic, Pomeranian Academy of Medicine, ul. Powstaców Wlkp. 72, Szczecin, Poland
b Department of Pathomorphology, Pomeranian Academy of Medicine, ul. Unii Lubelskiej 1, Szczecin, Poland
c National Institute of Food and Nutrition, ul. Powsiska 71/72, Warsaw, Poland
Received 5 June 2003; Revised 2 October 2003; accepted 1 November 2003. Available online 13 April 2004.


Adhesion and migration of leukocytes into the surrounding tissues is a crucial step in inflammation, immunity, and atherogenesis. Expression of cell adhesion molecules by endothelial cells plays a leading role in this process. Butyrate, a natural short-chain fatty acid produced by bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber, has been attributed with anti-inflammatory activity in inflammatory bowel disease. Butyrate in vitro is active in colonocytes and several other cell types. We have studied the effect of butyrate on expression of endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecules by cytokine-stimulated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Pretreatment of HUVEC with butyrate–inhibited tumor necrosis factor–α (TNFα)–induced expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intracellular cell adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) in a time and concentration-dependent manner. Butyrate at 10 mmol/L inhibited interleukin-1 (IL-1)–stimulated VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression. The effect of butyrate on cytokine-stimulated VCAM-1 expression was more pronounced than in the case of ICAM-1. Butyrate decreased TNFα-induced expression of mRNA for VCAM-1 and ICAM-1. Suppressed expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 was associated with reduced adherence of monocytes and lymphocytes to cytokine-stimulated HUVEC. Butyrate inhibited TNFα-induced activation of nuclear factor–κB (NF-κB) in HUVEC. Finally, butyrate enhanced peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor–α (PPARα) expression in HUVEC. These results demonstrate that butyrate may have anti-inflammatory properties not only in colonocytes but also in endothelial cells. The anti-inflammatory and (perhaps) antiatherogenic properties of butyrate may partly be attributed to an effect on activation of NF-κB and PPARα and to the associated expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1. The present findings support further investigations on the therapeutic benefits of butyrate in several pathological events involving leukocyte recruitment.