Stimulation of butyrate production in the large intestine of weaning piglets by dietary fructooligosaccharides and its influence on the histological variables of the large intestinal mucosa

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2003 Dec;49(6):414-21. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.49.414.


Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) reach the large intestine and are fermented into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), lactate, and carbon dioxide. As the major energy source for the epithelial cells of the large intestine, n-butyrate stimulates the proliferation of cells as well as mineral and water absorption from the lumen. We examined the effect of dietary FOS supplementation on luminal SCFA production and its influence on the morphometrical variables of mucosa of the large intestine in commercially available pigs. Six weaning piglets were used. After 7 d of adaptation, three pigs were given a test diet containing FOS (10%) ad libitum for 10 d. The other three remained on the basal diet and were used as controls. At the end of the experiment, their large intestines were removed, and the cecum, gyri centripetales, gyri centrifugales, and rectum were separated. The contents of each portion were collected and measured for SCFA concentration, pH, and moisture. A micrometer was used to measure the crypt depth. The numbers of epithelial and mitotic cells in the crypt columns were also counted. The concentration of SCFA was significantly higher in piglets fed FOS than in the controls. The concentration of n-butyrate was markedly stimulated by FOS. The number of epithelial. mitotic, and mucin-containing cells was higher in piglets fed FOS than in the controls. Accordingly, the crypt depth was larger in the FOS-fed piglets. The luminal n-butyrate concentration showed a significantly positive correlation with the crypt depth and the number of epithelial, mitotic, and mucin-containing cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Butyrates / analysis
  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intestinal Mucosa / anatomy & histology*
  • Intestine, Large / anatomy & histology
  • Intestine, Large / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mitotic Index
  • Oligosaccharides / administration & dosage*
  • Orchiectomy
  • Pentanoic Acids / analysis
  • Swine / metabolism*
  • Water / analysis
  • Weaning


  • Butyrates
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Pentanoic Acids
  • fructooligosaccharide
  • Water
  • n-pentanoic acid