Butyrate modulates oxidative stress in the colonic mucosa of healthy humans

Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;28(1):88-93. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2008.11.002. Epub 2008 Dec 23.


Background & aims: Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid produced by colonic microbial fermentation of undigested carbohydrates, has been implicated in the maintenance of colonic health. This study evaluates whether butyrate plays a role in oxidative stress in the healthy colonic mucosa.

Methods: A randomized, double blind, cross-over study with 16 healthy volunteers was performed. Treatments consisted of daily rectal administration of a 60 ml enema containing 100 mM sodium butyrate or saline for 2 weeks. After each treatment, a blood sample was taken and mucosal biopsies were obtained from the sigmoid colon. In biopsies, the trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity, activity of glutathione-S-transferase, concentration of uric acid, glutathione (GSH), glutathione disulfide and malondialdehyde, and expression of genes involved in GSH and uric acid metabolism was determined. Secondary outcome parameters were CRP, calprotectin and intestinal fatty acid binding protein in plasma and histological inflammatory scores.

Results: Butyrate treatment resulted in significantly higher GSH (p<0.05) and lower uric acid (p<0.01) concentrations compared to placebo. Changes in GSH and uric acid were accompanied by increased and decreased expression, respectively, of their rate limiting enzymes determined by RT-PCR. No significant differences were found in other parameters.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that butyrate is able to beneficially affect oxidative stress in the healthy human colon.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00693355.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Butyrates / pharmacology*
  • Colon / drug effects*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / pathology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enema
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / analysis
  • Uric Acid / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Butyrates
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Uric Acid
  • Glutathione

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00693355