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Journal of Diabetes Research
Volume 2016, Article ID 6014631, 15 pages
Research Article

Diabetes Mellitus and Increased Tuberculosis Susceptibility: The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids

Department of Internal Medicine and Radboudumc Center for Infectious Diseases, Radboud University Medical Center, Internal Postal Code 463, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, Netherlands

Received 17 July 2015; Accepted 18 October 2015

Academic Editor: Francisco J. Ruperez

Copyright © 2016 Ekta Lachmandas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus confers a threefold increased risk for tuberculosis, but the underlying immunological mechanisms are still largely unknown. Possible mediators of this increased susceptibility are short-chain fatty acids, levels of which have been shown to be altered in individuals with diabetes. We examined the influence of physiological concentrations of butyrate on cytokine responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Butyrate decreased Mtb-induced proinflammatory cytokine responses, while it increased production of IL-10. This anti-inflammatory effect was independent of butyrate’s well-characterised inhibition of HDAC activity and was not accompanied by changes in Toll-like receptor signalling pathways, the eicosanoid pathway, or cellular metabolism. In contrast blocking IL-10 activity reversed the effects of butyrate on Mtb-induced inflammation. Alteration of the gut microbiota, thereby increasing butyrate concentrations, can reduce insulin resistance and obesity, but further studies are needed to determine how this affects susceptibility to tuberculosis.