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Short chain fatty acids in human gut and metabolic health

In: Beneficial Microbes
Authors:
E.E. Blaak Department of Human Biology, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER Maastricht, The Netherlands.

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E.E. Canfora Department of Human Biology, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER Maastricht, The Netherlands.

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S. Theis Südzucker Group – Beneo, Wormser Str. 11, Mannheim, 67283, Germany.

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G. Frost Faculty of Medicine, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ London, United Kingdom.

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A.K. Groen Diabetes Center, Department of Internal and Vascular Medicine, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, location AMC, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Quantitative Systems Biology, Department of Pediatrics, Centre for Liver, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases, University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG), University of Groningen, P.O. Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands.

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G. Mithieux INSERM U1213, Faculté de Médecine Laennec, University of Lyon, 7-11 Rue Guillaume Paradin, 69372 Lyon, France.

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A. Nauta FrieslandCampina, P.O. Box 1551, 3800 BN Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

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K. Scott The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, United Kingdom.

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B. Stahl Danone Nutricia Research, Uppsalalaan 12, 3584 CT, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Department of Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Universiteitsweg 99, 3584 CG Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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J. van Harsselaar Südzucker Group – Beneo, Wormser Str. 11, Mannheim, 67283, Germany.

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R. van Tol Reckitt Benckiser/Mead Johnson Nutrition, Middenkampweg 2, 6545 CJ Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

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E.E. Vaughan Sensus (Royal Cosun), Borchwerf 3, 4704 RG Roosendaal, the Netherlands.

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K. Verbeke Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders (TARGID), KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

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Open Access

Evidence is accumulating that short chain fatty acids (SCFA) play an important role in the maintenance of gut and metabolic health. The SCFA acetate, propionate and butyrate are produced from the microbial fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates and appear to be key mediators of the beneficial effects elicited by the gut microbiome. Microbial SCFA production is essential for gut integrity by regulating the luminal pH, mucus production, providing fuel for epithelial cells and effects on mucosal immune function. SCFA also directly modulate host metabolic health through a range of tissue-specific mechanisms related to appetite regulation, energy expenditure, glucose homeostasis and immunomodulation. Therefore, an increased microbial SCFA production can be considered as a health benefit, but data are mainly based on animal studies, whereas well-controlled human studies are limited. In this review an expert group by ILSI Europe’s Prebiotics Task Force discussed the current scientific knowledge on SCFA to consider the relationship between SCFA and gut and metabolic health with a particular focus on human evidence. Overall, the available mechanistic data and limited human data on the metabolic consequences of elevated gut-derived SCFA production strongly suggest that increasing SCFA production could be a valuable strategy in the preventing gastro-intestinal dysfunction, obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need for well controlled longer term human SCFA intervention studies, including measurement of SCFA fluxes and kinetics, the heterogeneity in response based on metabolic phenotype, the type of dietary fibre and fermentation site in fibre intervention studies and the control for factors that could shape the microbiome like diet, physical activity and use of medication.

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