The gastrointestinal tract contains multiple types of immune cells that maintain the balance between tolerance and activation at the first line of host defense facing non-self antigens, including dietary antigens, commensal bacteria, and sometimes unexpected pathogens. The maintenance of homeostasis at the gastrointestinal tract requires stringent regulation of immune responses against various environmental conditions. Dietary components can be converted into gut metabolites with unique functional activities through host as well as microbial enzymatic activities. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that gastrointestinal metabolites have significant impacts on the regulation of intestinal immunity and are further integrated into the immune response of distal mucosal tissue. Metabolites, especially those derived from the microbiota, regulate immune cell functions in various ways, including the recognition and activation of cell surface receptors, the control of gene expression by epigenetic regulation, and the integration of cellular metabolism. These mucosal immune regulations are key to understanding the mechanisms underlying the development of gastrointestinal disorders. Here, we review recent advancements in our understanding of the role of gut metabolites in the regulation of gastrointestinal immunity, highlighting the cellular and molecular regulatory mechanisms by macronutrient-derived metabolites.
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