Cell Rep 2019 Apr;27(3):750-761.e7
Laboratory of Immunoinflammation, Department of Genetics, Evolution, Microbiology, and Immunology, Institute of Biology, University of Campinas, Campinas, SP 13083-862, Brazil. Electronic address:
Antibiotic-induced dysbiosis is a key factor predisposing intestinal infection by Clostridium difficile. Here, we show that interventions that restore butyrate intestinal levels mitigate clinical and pathological features of C. difficile-induced colitis. Butyrate has no effect on C. difficile colonization or toxin production. However, it attenuates intestinal inflammation and improves intestinal barrier function in infected mice, as shown by reduced intestinal epithelial permeability and bacterial translocation, effects associated with the increased expression of components of intestinal epithelial cell tight junctions. Activation of the transcription factor HIF-1 in intestinal epithelial cells exerts a protective effect in C. difficile-induced colitis, and it is required for butyrate effects. We conclude that butyrate protects intestinal epithelial cells from damage caused by C. difficile toxins via the stabilization of HIF-1, mitigating local inflammatory response and systemic consequences of the infection.