Colonic mucin synthesis is increased by sodium butyrate.
The effects of sodium butyrate and sodium bromo-octanoate (an inhibitor of beta oxidation) on colonic mucus glycoprotein (mucin) synthesis have been assessed using tissue from colonic resection samples. Epithelial biopsy specimens were incubated for 16 hours in RPMI 1640 with glutamine, supplemented with 10% fetal calf serum and N-acetyl-[3H]-glucosamine ([3H]-Glc NAc), and differing concentrations of sodium butyrate. Incorporation of [3H] Glc NAc into mucin by normal epithelium at least 10 cm distant from colonic cancer was increased in the presence of sodium butyrate in a dose dependent manner, with maximum effect (476%) at a concentration of 0.1 mM (number of specimens = 24 from six patients, p < 0.001). The increase in response to butyrate was not seen when specimens were incubated in the presence of the beta oxidation inhibitor sodium bromo-octanoate 0.05 M. The striking increase in mucin synthesis that results when butyrate is added to standard nutrient medium suggests that this may be an important mechanism affecting the rate of mucin synthesis in vivo and may also explain the therapeutic effect of butyrate in colitis.