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Nicholas Justice, PhD
Butyrate is one of several short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) produced by anaerobic bacterial fermentation in the human colon.
Butyrate-producing bacteria belong to the Clostridia, especially the families Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae.
Their abundance and subsequent butyrogenic health effects are largely a function of diet, especially the ingestion of high amounts of fiber from plants. Lower abundance of butyrogenic organisms in the colon is correlated with prediabetes, diabetes, and obesity.
Interventional studies in rodents support the idea that butyrate and butyrogenic organisms improve glucose homeostasis and protect against diet-induced obesity.
These effects are thought to occur through several mechanisms, including promotion of intestinal gluconeogenesis, increasing energy expenditure, and regulation of energy intake and satiety through the induction of neuroendocrine peptides (e.g., GLP-1 and PYY).
Butyrate is an important energy source for colonocytes and promotes healthy cell proliferation, expression of gut barrier proteins, and maintenance of balanced anaerobic conditions.
Furthermore, by regulating inflammatory responses and T cell differentiation, butyrate modulates immune homeostasis at the gut epithelial barrier.
The impacts of butyrate extend beyond the intestinal lumen, and systemic circulation of butyrate impacts immune cells, adipose, hepatic, and pancreatic tissue–largely through activation of G-protein-coupled receptors.