Short-chain fatty acids and polyamines in the pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis: Kinetics aspects in gnotobiotic quails

Anaerobe. 2009 Aug;15(4):138-44. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2009.02.001. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Despite years of investigation, pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) remains elusive. Bacterial metabolites were implicated by several authors but their roles remain controversial. The aim of our study was to investigate the role of SCFAs and polyamines through a kinetic study of histological and macroscopical digestive lesions in monobiotic quails. Germ-free quails, inoculated with a Clostridium butyricum strain involved in a NEC case, were fed or not with a diet including lactose (7%). Quails were sacrificed at various times between D7 and D24 after bacterial inoculation. NEC-like lesions, i.e. thickening, pneumatosis, and hemorrhages, occurred only in lactose-fed quails and increased with time. The main histological characteristics were infiltrates of mononuclear cells, then heterophilic cells, then gas cyst and necrosis. The first event observed, before histological and macroscopical lesions, is a high production of butyric acid, which precedes an increase of iNOS gene expression. No difference in polyamines contents depending on the diet was observed. These results show the major role of butyric acid produced by commensal bacteria in the onset of the digestive lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cecum* / metabolism
  • Cecum* / microbiology
  • Cecum* / pathology
  • Clostridium butyricum / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / microbiology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / physiopathology*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Germ-Free Life*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Lactose / administration & dosage*
  • Lactose / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II / metabolism
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Quail*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Polyamines
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Lactose