The short-chain fatty acid butyrate attenuates pulmonary vascular remodeling and inflammation in hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension

Vijaya Karoor, Derek Strassheim, Timothy Sullivan, Alexander Verin, Nagavedi S. Umapathy, Edward C. Dempsey, Daniel N. Frank, Kurt R. Stenmark, Evgenia Gerasimovskaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive cardiovascular disorder in which local vascular inflammation leads to increased pulmonary vascular remodeling and ultimately to right heart failure. The HDAC inhibitor butyrate, a product of microbial fermentation, is protective in inflammatory intestinal diseases, but little is known regarding its effect on extraintestinal diseases, such as PH. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that butyrate is protective in a Sprague–Dawley (SD) rat model of hypoxic PH. Treatment with butyrate (220 mg/kg intake) prevented hypoxiainduced right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH), hypoxia-induced increases in right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), pulmonary vascular remodeling, and permeability. A reversal effect of butyrate (2200 mg/kg intake) was observed on elevated RVH. Butyrate treatment also increased the acetylation of histone H3, 25–34 kDa, and 34–50 kDa proteins in the total lung lysates of butyrate-treated animals. In addition, butyrate decreased hypoxia-induced accumulation of alveolar (mostly CD68+) and interstitial (CD68+ and CD163+) lung macrophages. Analysis of cytokine profiles in lung tissue lysates showed a hypoxia-induced upregulation of TIMP-1, CINC-1, and Fractalkine and downregulation of soluble ICAM (sICAM). The expression of Fractalkine and VEGFα, but not CINC-1, TIMP-1, and sICAM was downregulated by butyrate. In rat microvascular endothelial cells (RMVEC), butyrate (1 mM, 2 and 24 h) exhibited a protective effect against TNFα-and LPSinduced barrier disruption. Butyrate (1 mM, 24 h) also upregulated tight junctional proteins (occludin, cingulin, claudin-1) and increased the acetylation of histone H3 but not α-tubulin. These findings provide evidence of the protective effect of butyrate on hypoxic PH and suggest its potential use as a complementary treatment for PH and other cardiovascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9916
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Butyrate
  • Endothelial barrier
  • HDAC inhibitors
  • Inflammation
  • Protein acetylation
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Vascular permeability
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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