Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 132, Issue 8, pp 487–497 | Cite as

The effects of short-chain fatty acids on colon epithelial proliferation and survival depend on the cellular phenotype

  • Mònica ComaladaEmail author
  • Elvira Bailón
  • Oscar de Haro
  • Federico Lara-Villoslada
  • Jordi Xaus
  • Antonio Zarzuelo
  • Julio Gálvez
Original Paper


Purpose: The short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are produced via anaerobic bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber within the colonic lumen. Among them, butyrate is thought to protect against colon carcinogenesis. However, few studies analyze the effects of butyrate, and other SCFA, on normal epithelial cells and on epithelial regeneration during disease recovery. Since there are controversial in vitro studies, we have explored the effects of SCFA on different biological processes. Methods: We used both tumoral (HT-29) and normal (FHC) epithelial cells at different phenotypic states. In addition, we analyzed the in vivo activity of soluble dietary fiber and SCFA production in the proliferation rate and regeneration of intestinal epithelial cells. Results: The effect of butyrate on epithelial cells depends on the phenotypic cellular state. Thus, in nondifferentiated, high proliferative adenocarcinoma cells, butyrate significantly inhibited proliferation while increased differentiation and apoptosis, whereas other SCFA studied did not. However, in normal cells or in differentiated cultures as well as in in vivo studies, the normal proliferation and regeneration of damaged epithelium is not affected by butyrate or SCFA exposure. Conclusion: Although butyrate could exert antiproliferative effects in tumor progression, its production is safe and without consequences for the normal epithelium growth.


Tumor cells Colorectal cancer Fiber Fermentation Colonic damage 



This work was supported by grants from Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (SAF2002-02592) and from Instituto de Salud “Carlos III” (PI021732), with funds from the European Union, and from Junta de Andalucía (CTS-164). EB is recipient of a fellowship from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Spain. MC is member of the “Juan de la Cierva” program, Ministry of Science and Technology, Spain. The authors want to thank Dr. M.E. Rodríguez-Cabezas for editorial assistance and Dr. M.N. Rodríguez-Cabezas for technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mònica Comalada
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elvira Bailón
    • 1
  • Oscar de Haro
    • 1
  • Federico Lara-Villoslada
    • 2
  • Jordi Xaus
    • 2
  • Antonio Zarzuelo
    • 1
  • Julio Gálvez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, School of PharmacyUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Immunology and Animal SciencesPuleva Biotech, S.A.GranadaSpain

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