Trapecar et al., 2020
Association between the microbiome, IBD and liver diseases are known, yet cause and effect remain elusive. By connecting human microphysiological systems of the gut, liver and circulating Treg/Th17 cells, we created a multi-organ model of ulcerative colitis (UC) ex vivo. The approach shows microbiome-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) to either improve or worsen UC severity, depending on the involvement of effector CD4 T cells. Employing multiomics, we found SCFA increased production of ketone bodies, glycolysis and lipogenesis, while markedly reducing innate immune activation of the UC gut. However, during acute T cell-mediated inflammation, SCFA exacerbated CD4+ T cell effector function, partially through metabolic reprograming, leading to gut barrier disruption and hepatic injury. These paradoxical findings underscore the emerging utility of human physiomimetic technology in combination with systems immunology to study causality and the fundamental entanglement of immunity, metabolism and tissue homeostasis.