Review article: the role of butyrate on colonic function

Authors

  • H. M. HAMER,

    1. TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen
    2. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, Nutrim, Maastricht University, Maastricht
    Search for more papers by this author
  • D. JONKERS,

    1. TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen
    2. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, Nutrim, Maastricht University, Maastricht
    Search for more papers by this author
  • K. VENEMA,

    1. TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen
    2. Department of Biosciences, TNO Quality of Life, Zeist, the Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
  • S. VANHOUTVIN,

    1. TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen
    2. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, Nutrim, Maastricht University, Maastricht
    Search for more papers by this author
  • F. J. TROOST,

    1. TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen
    2. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, Nutrim, Maastricht University, Maastricht
    Search for more papers by this author
  • R.-J. BRUMMER

    1. TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen
    2. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, Nutrim, Maastricht University, Maastricht
    Search for more papers by this author

Dr H. M. Hamer, Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, University of Maastricht, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands.
E-mail: h.hamer@intmed.unimaas.nl

Summary

Background  Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, is a main end-product of intestinal microbial fermentation of mainly dietary fibre. Butyrate is an important energy source for intestinal epithelial cells and plays a role in the maintenance of colonic homeostasis.

Aim  To provide an overview on the present knowledge of the bioactivity of butyrate, emphasizing effects and possible mechanisms of action in relation to human colonic function.

Methods  A PubMed search was performed to select relevant publications using the search terms: ‘butyrate, short-chain fatty acid, fibre, colon, inflammation, carcinogenesis, barrier, oxidative stress, permeability and satiety’.

Results  Butyrate exerts potent effects on a variety of colonic mucosal functions such as inhibition of inflammation and carcinogenesis, reinforcing various components of the colonic defence barrier and decreasing oxidative stress. In addition, butyrate may promote satiety. Two important mechanisms include the inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B activation and histone deacetylation. However, the observed effects of butyrate largely depend on concentrations and models used and human data are still limited.

Conclusion  Although most studies point towards beneficial effects of butyrate, more human in vivo studies are needed to contribute to our current understanding of butyrate-mediated effects on colonic function in health and disease.

Ancillary