Scientific Reports (2021-03-01)

Associations of serum short-chain fatty acids with circulating immune cells and serum biomarkers in patients with multiple sclerosis

  • Stephanie Trend,
  • Jonatan Leffler,
  • Anderson P. Jones,
  • Lilian Cha,
  • Shelley Gorman,
  • David A. Brown,
  • Samuel N. Breit,
  • Allan G. Kermode,
  • Martyn A. French,
  • Natalie C. Ward,
  • Prue H. Hart

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
pp. 1 – 15


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Abstract Altered composition of gut bacteria and changes to the production of their bioactive metabolites, the short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), have been implicated in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the immunomodulatory actions of SCFAs and intermediaries in their ability to influence MS pathogenesis are uncertain. In this study, levels of serum SCFAs were correlated with immune cell abundance and phenotype as well as with other relevant serum factors in blood samples taken at first presentation of Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS; an early form of MS) or MS and compared to healthy controls. There was a small but significant reduction in propionate levels in the serum of patients with CIS or MS compared with healthy controls. The frequencies of circulating T follicular regulatory cells and T follicular helper cells were significantly positively correlated with serum levels of propionate. Levels of butyrate associated positively with frequencies of IL-10-producing B-cells and negatively with frequencies of class-switched memory B-cells. TNF production by polyclonally-activated B-cells correlated negatively with acetate levels. Levels of serum SCFAs associated with changes in circulating immune cells and biomarkers implicated in the development of MS.