The intestine not only plays a role in fundamental processes in digestion and nutrient absorption, but it also has a role in eliminating ingested pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Paneth cells, which reside at the base of small intestinal crypts, secrete α-defensins and contribute to enteric innate immunity through potent microbicidal activities. However, the relationship between food factors and the innate immune functions of Paneth cells remains unknown. Here, we examined whether short-chain fatty acids and amino acids induce α-defensin secretion from Paneth cells in the isolated crypts of small intestine. Butyric acid and leucine elicit α-defensin secretion by Paneth cells, which kills Salmonella typhimurium
. We further measured Paneth cell secretion in response to butyric acid and leucine using enteroids, a three-dimensional ex vivo culture system of small intestinal epithelial cells. Paneth cells expressed short-chain fatty acid receptors, Gpr41
, and Gpr109a
mRNAs for butyric acid, and amino acid transporter Slc7a8
mRNA for leucine. Antagonists of Gpr41 and Slc7a8 inhibited granule secretion by Paneth cells, indicating that these receptor and transporter on Paneth cells induce granule secretion. Our findings suggest that Paneth cells may contribute to intestinal homeostasis by secreting α-defensins in response to certain nutrients or metabolites.
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