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Biological significance of short-chain fatty acid metabolism by the intestinal microbiome

Puertollano, Elena; Kolida, Sofia; Yaqoob, Parveen

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: March 2014 - Volume 17 - Issue 2 - p 139–144
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000025
LIPID METABOLISM AND THERAPY: Edited by Philip C. Calder and Richard J. Deckelbaum

Purpose of review Evidence suggests that short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) derived from microbial metabolism in the gut play a central role in host homeostasis. The present review describes the current understanding and physiological implications of SCFAs derived from microbial metabolism of nondigestible carbohydrates.

Recent findings Recent studies indicate a role for SCFAs, in particular propionate and butyrate, in metabolic and inflammatory disorders such as obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases, through the activation of specific G-protein-coupled receptors and modification of transcription factors. Established prebiotics, such as fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides, which support the growth of Bifidobacteria, mainly mediate acetate production. Thus, recent identification of prebiotics which are able to stimulate the production of propionate and butyrate by benign saccharolytic populations in the colon is of interest.

Summary Manipulation of saccharolytic fermentation by prebiotic substrates is beginning to provide information on structure–function relationships relating to the production of SCFAs, which have multiple roles in host homeostasis.

Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, UK

Correspondence to Parveen Yaqoob, Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 226, Reading, RG6 6AP, UK. Tel: +44 118 378 8720; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins