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      Butyrate: A Double-Edged Sword for Health?

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          <p id="d2722727e199">Butyrate, a four-carbon short-chain fatty acid, is produced through microbial fermentation of dietary fibers in the lower intestinal tract. Endogenous butyrate production, delivery, and absorption by colonocytes have been well documented. Butyrate exerts its functions by acting as a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor or signaling through several G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs). Recently, butyrate has received particular attention for its beneficial effects on intestinal homeostasis and energy metabolism. With anti-inflammatory properties, butyrate enhances intestinal barrier function and mucosal immunity. However, the role of butyrate in obesity remains controversial. Growing evidence has highlighted the impact of butyrate on the gut-brain axis. In this review, we summarize the present knowledge on the properties of butyrate, especially its potential effects and mechanisms involved in intestinal health and obesity. </p>

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          Intestinal Short Chain Fatty Acids and their Link with Diet and Human Health

          The colon is inhabited by a dense population of microorganisms, the so-called “gut microbiota,” able to ferment carbohydrates and proteins that escape absorption in the small intestine during digestion. This microbiota produces a wide range of metabolites, including short chain fatty acids (SCFA). These compounds are absorbed in the large bowel and are defined as 1-6 carbon volatile fatty acids which can present straight or branched-chain conformation. Their production is influenced by the pattern of food intake and diet-mediated changes in the gut microbiota. SCFA have distinct physiological effects: they contribute to shaping the gut environment, influence the physiology of the colon, they can be used as energy sources by host cells and the intestinal microbiota and they also participate in different host-signaling mechanisms. We summarize the current knowledge about the production of SCFA, including bacterial cross-feedings interactions, and the biological properties of these metabolites with impact on the human health.
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            Formation of propionate and butyrate by the human colonic microbiota

            The human gut microbiota ferments dietary non-digestible carbohydrates into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These microbial products are utilized by the host and propionate and butyrate in particular exert a range of health-promoting functions. Here an overview of the metabolic pathways utilized by gut microbes to produce these two SCFA from dietary carbohydrates and from amino acids resulting from protein breakdown is provided. This overview emphasizes the important role played by cross-feeding of intermediary metabolites (in particular lactate, succinate and 1,2-propanediol) between different gut bacteria. The ecophysiology, including growth requirements and responses to environmental factors, of major propionate and butyrate producing bacteria are discussed in relation to dietary modulation of these metabolites. A detailed understanding of SCFA metabolism by the gut microbiota is necessary to underpin effective strategies to optimize SCFA supply to the host.
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              Regional specialization within the intestinal immune system.

              The intestine represents the largest compartment of the immune system. It is continually exposed to antigens and immunomodulatory agents from the diet and the commensal microbiota, and it is the port of entry for many clinically important pathogens. Intestinal immune processes are also increasingly implicated in controlling disease development elsewhere in the body. In this Review, we detail the anatomical and physiological distinctions that are observed in the small and large intestines, and we suggest how these may account for the diversity in the immune apparatus that is seen throughout the intestine. We describe how the distribution of innate, adaptive and innate-like immune cells varies in different segments of the intestine and discuss the environmental factors that may influence this. Finally, we consider the implications of regional immune specialization for inflammatory disease in the intestine.

                Author and article information

                Advances in Nutrition
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                January 2018
                January 2018
                January 01 2018
                February 09 2018
                : 9
                : 1
                : 21-29
                © 2018


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