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Quantitation of Colonic Luminal Synthesis of Butyric Acid in Piglets

Kien, C. Lawrence*†; Chang, J. C.*; Cooper, James R.*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: September 2002 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 324-328
Original Articles: Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Objectives Butyric acid, synthesized via bacterial fermentation in colonic lumen, may play an important role in the nutrition of the colonic mucosa. Since disaccharides, especially lactose, are the principal dietary carbohydrates during infancy, it is important to determine if their fermentation is associated with butyric acid synthesis. The objective of this paper is to describe a newly developed stable isotope method for quantifying butyric acid synthesis in the colonic lumen and to demonstrate its application during cecal infusions of lactose and lactulose in piglets.

Methods Nine piglets aged 21 to 30 days were studied during acute anesthesia. The 13C enrichment of butyric acid was monitored in the portal vein before and during a 120 minutes cecal infusion of [1–13C]-butyric acid and either unlabeled lactose (N = 4) or lactulose (N = 5).

Results The luminal synthesis of BA (μmol x kg−1 x min−1) (Mean ± S.D.) was respectively 1.5 ± 0.9 and 1.2 ± 0.6 during lactulose and lactose infusion.

Conclusions This study provides new quantitative data on in vivo butyric acid production in the mammalian colon.

*Children's Research Institute and †the Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.

Received October 18, 2001; accepted April 11, 2002.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to C. Lawrence Kien, MD, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Gastroenterology and Nutrition Division,

University of Texas Medical Branch, Children's Hospital, 301 University Blvd. Galveston, TX 77555–0352, U.S.A. (e-mail:

This study was supported by grants from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, Inc., New York, New York, and the Children's Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Kien was supported in part by DK61775 during the editorial process.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.