Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid produced in the gut after consuming dietary fiber, is a key energy source for colonocytes, which are cells found in the colon. Butyrate plays an important role in gastrointestinal health by decreasing inflammation, promoting a healthy microbiome and maintaining the integrity of the gastrointestinal barrier. Literature has also shown that low levels of butyrate can contribute to intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. This purpose of this paper was to discuss the current understanding of the way butyrate works, with a focus on the gastrointestinal system. The paper concludes that butyrate helps maintain intestinal health, promotes blood flow and digestion in the colon and supports wound healing processes that are needed to repair injury to the gut barrier. Butyrate can also protect against gastrointestinal diseases and infections.
Butyrate is a key energy source for colonocytes and is produced by the gut microbiota through fermentation of dietary fiber. Butyrate is a histone deacetylase inhibitor and also signals through three G-protein coupled receptors. It is clear that butyrate has an important role in gastrointestinal health and that butyrate levels can impact both host and microbial functions that are intimately coupled with each other. Maintaining optimal butyrate levels improves gastrointestinal health in animal models by supporting colonocyte function, decreasing inflammation, maintaining the gut barrier, and promoting a healthy microbiome. Butyrate has also shown protective actions in the context of intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, graft-versus-host disease of the gastrointestinal tract, and colon cancer, whereas lower levels of butyrate and/or the microbes which are responsible for producing this metabolite are associated with disease and poorer health outcomes. However, clinical efforts to increase butyrate levels in humans and reverse these negative outcomes have generated mixed results. This article discusses our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms of butyrate action with a focus on the gastrointestinal system, the links between host and microbial factors, and the efforts that are currently underway to apply the knowledge gained from the bench to bedside.
Article Publication Date: 1/11/2022