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The metabolic requirements change during cell proliferation and differentiation. Upon antigen-stimulation, effector T cells switch from adenosine-triphospate (ATP)-production by oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria to glycolysis. In the gut it was shown that short chain fatty acids (SCFA), fermentation products of the microbiota in colon, ameliorate inflammatory reactions by supporting the differentiation of regulatory T cells. SCFA are a major energy source, but they are also anabolic metabolites, histone-deacetylase-inhibitors and activators of G protein receptors. Recently, it was reported that a topical application of the SCFA butyrate promotes regulatory T cells in the skin. Here we ask if the SCFA butyrate, propionate and acetate affect the energy metabolism and inflammatory potential of dendritic epidermal T cells (DETC), the innate resident skin γδ T cell population. Using the Seahorse™ technology, we measured glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in a murine DETC cell line, 7-17, upon TCR-stimulation by CD3/CD28 crosslinking, with or without SCFA addition. TCR engagement resulted in a change of the ratio glycolysis/OXPHOS. A similar metabolic shift has been described for activated CD4 T cells. Addition of 5 mM SCFA, in particular butyrate, antagonized the effect. Stimulated DETC secrete cytokines, e.g. the pro-inflammatory cytokine interferon-gamma (IFNγ), and thereby regulate skin homeostasis. Addition of butyrate and propionate to the cultures at non-toxic concentrations decreased secretion of IFNγ by DETC and increased the expression of the immunoregulatory surface receptor CD69. We hypothesize that SCFA can dampen the inflammatory activity of DETC.
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