Hu & Zhang Lab
The State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy Si-Chuan University

Dietary long-chain fatty acids enhance the differentiation of TH1 and TH17 cells in the gut

The links between diet, microbiota composition, immune status and, ultimately, disease are strengthened by new evidence showing that long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), the most abundant type of fatty acid in the typical Western diet, can exacerbate disease in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. The study shows that LCFAs promote microbiota changes in the gut and enhance the differentiation of pro-inflammatory T helper 1 (TH1) cells and TH17 cells with systemic effects.

Adding the LCFA lauric acid (a C12 fatty acid) to naive mouse T cells increased the differentiation of TH1 and TH17 cells by ~50% under TH cell polarizing conditions and decreased the differentiation of regulatory T (TReg) cells by about one third. A similar positive effect of lauric acid on TH1 cell differentiation was observed in terms of interferon-γ production by CD4+ T cells from healthy human donors.

ORIGINAL RESEARCH PAPER Haghikia, A. et al.Dietary fatty acids directly impact central nervous system autoimmunity via the small intestine.Immunity 43, 817–829 (2015)