Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology

Prophylactic tributyrin treatment mitigates chronic-binge ethanol-induced intestinal barrier and liver injury.

PMID 28087985


Impaired gut-liver axis is a potential factor contributing to alcoholic liver disease. Ethanol depletes intestinal integrity and causes gut dysbiosis. Butyrate, a fermentation byproduct of gut microbiota, is altered negatively following chronic ethanol exposure. This study aimed to determine whether prophylactic tributyrin could protect the intestinal barrier and liver in mice during combined chronic-binge ethanol exposure. C57BL/6J mice exposed to 5% v/v ethanol-containing diet for 10 days received a single ethanol gavage (5 g/kg) 9 h before euthanasia. Control mice were isocalorically pair-fed maltose dextrin for ethanol. Diets were supplemented (5 mM) with tributyrin or glycerol. Intestine and liver disease activity was assessed histologically. Protein and mRNA expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins, toll-like receptors, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were assessed. Caco-2 monolayers with or without ethanol exposure and/or sodium butyrate were used to test butyrate's direct effects on intestinal integrity. Chronic-binge ethanol feeding impaired intestinal TJ protein co-localization staining; however, tributyrin co-treatment mitigated these effects. Ethanol depleted TJ and transepithelial electrical resistance in Caco-2 monolayers, but butyrate co-treatment reduced these effects. Hepatic toll-like receptor mRNA expression and tumor necrosis factor-alpha protein expression was induced by ethanol; however, the response was significantly dampened in mice co-treated with tributyrin. Tributyrin altered localization of both neutrophils and single hepatocyte death: Leukocytes and apoptotic hepatocytes localized predominantly around the portal tract in ethanol-only treated mice, whereas localization predominated around the central vein in ethanol-tributyrin mice. Prophylactic tributyrin supplementation mitigated effects of combined chronic-binge ethanol exposure on disruption of intestinal TJ localization and intestinal permeability and liver injury.