Growing empirical evidence suggests that nutrition and bacterial metabolites might impact the systemic immune response in the context of disease and autoimmunity.
Researchers in the journal Immunity report that long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) enhanced differentiation and proliferation of T helper 1 (Th1) and/or Th17 cells and impaired their intestinal sequestration via p38-MAPK pathway.
Alternatively, dietary short-chain FAs (SCFAs) expanded gut T regulatory (Treg) cells by suppression of the JNK1 and p38 pathway.
They used experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) as a model of T cell-mediated autoimmunity to show that LCFAs consistently decreased SCFAs in the gut and exacerbated disease by expanding pathogenic Th1 and/or Th17 cell populations in the small intestine.
Treatment with SCFAs ameliorated EAE and reduced axonal damage via long-lasting imprinting on lamina-propria-derived Treg cells.
These data demonstrate a direct dietary impact on intestinal-specific, and subsequently central nervous system-specific, Th cell responses in autoimmunity, and thus might have therapeutic implications for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.