Short Chain Fatty Acids



Many carbohydrates present in plant foods exhibit complex structures. Thus, whilst the small intestine has the capacity to breakdown a limited number of polysaccharide compounds, different dietary carbohydrates still reach the colon. These include cell wall polysaccharides and related compounds (10–30 g/d), resistant starch (5–20 g/d) and varying amounts of oligosaccharides (inulin, α-galactosides, synthetic oligosaccharides). As a general rule, soluble fibres are more readily degraded than insoluble forms. In addition, there is a permanent supply of endogenous compounds like digestive secretions, mucus and sloughed epithelial cells, which all add to the pool of available carbon. Despite the diversity of substrates fermented by the colonic microflora, end-products of carbon metabolism are mostly represented by a limited number of carboxylic acids, especially short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as acetate, propionate and butyrate. Lactate, succinate and branched-chain fatty acids are more minor compounds under most conditions in monogastric species. Short chain fatty acid production in the large intestine constitutes a process which allows the recovery of carbon units and chemical energy from fermented compounds.


Short Chain Fatty Acid Distal Colon Proximal Colon Resistant Starch Sodium Butyrate 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire des Maladies Metaboliques et des MicronutrientsINRA de Centre de Recherches de Clermont-Ferrand-TheixSaint-Genès-ChampanelleFrance

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