The Potential Effects of Short-Chain Fatty Acids on the Epigenetic Regulation of Innate Immune Memory

Raphael Watt, Kim Parkin, David Martino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The regulation of innate immunity is substantially more ‘plastic’ than previously appreciated. Innate immune memory (manifested through trained immunity and tolerance) is a recently described epigenetic phenomenon that is a model example, with broad implications for infectious disease, allergy and autoimmunity. Training the innate immune system to combat infections and temper inappropriate responses in non-communicable diseases will likely be an area of intense research. Innate immunity is influenced by short chain fatty acids, which are the natural products of digestion by the intestinal microbiota that possess inherent histone deacetylase inhibitory properties. It therefore stands to reason that a healthy gut microbiome may well influence mucosal and systemic trained immunity via short chain fatty acids. There is a lack of data on this specific topic, and we discuss potential relationships based on available and preliminary evidence. Understanding the link between intestinal microbiome composition, capacity for short chain fatty acid production and downstream effects on innate immune memory in early life will have important implications for host immunobiology. In this review we explore the intersection between the gut microbiota, short chain fatty acids and epigenetic regulation of innate immunity with a focus on early life.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2020


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