Branched fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids (FAHFAs) protect against colitis by regulating gut innate and adaptive immune responses

Jennifer Lee, Pedro M. Moraes-Vieira, Angela Castoldi, Pratik Aryal, Eric U. Yee, Christopher Vickers, Oren Parnas, Cynthia J. Donaldson, Alan Saghatelian, Barbara B. Kahn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


We recently discovered a structurally novel class of endogenous lipids, branched palmitic acid esters of hydroxy stearic acids (PAHSAs), with beneficial metabolic and anti-inflammatory effects. We tested whether PAHSAs protect against colitis, which is a chronic inflammatory disease driven predominantly by defects in the innate mucosal barrier and adaptive immune system. There is an unmet clinical need for safe and well tolerated oral therapeutics with direct anti-inflammatory effects. Wild-type mice were pretreated orally with vehicle or 5-PAHSA (10 mg/kg) and 9-PAHSA (5 mg/kg) once daily for 3 days, followed by 10 days of either 0% or 2% dextran sulfate sodium water with continued vehicle or PAHSA treatment. The colon was collected for histopathology, gene expression, and flow cytometry. Intestinal crypt fractions were prepared for ex vivo bactericidal assays. Bone marrow-derived dendritic cells pretreated with vehicle or PAHSA and splenic CD4+ T cells from syngeneic mice were co-cultured to assess antigen presentation and T cell activation in response to LPS. PAHSA treatment prevented weight loss, improved colitis scores (stool consistency, hematochezia, and mouse appearance), and augmented intestinal crypt Paneth cell bactericidal potency via a mechanism that may involve GPR120. In vitro, PAHSAs attenuated dendritic cell activation and subsequent T cell proliferation and Th1 polarization. The anti-inflammatory effects of PAHSAs in vivo resulted in reduced colonic T cell activation and pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression. These anti-inflammatory effects appear to be partially GPR120-dependent. We conclude that PAHSA treatment regulates innate and adaptive immune responses to prevent mucosal damage and protect against colitis. Thus, PAHSAs may be a novel treatment for colitis and related inflammation-driven diseases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)22207-22217
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number42
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2016

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


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