The multiple beneficial effects on human health of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, synthesized from non-absorbed carbohydrate by colonic microbiota, are well documented. At the intestinal level, butyrate plays a regulatory role on the transepithelial fluid transport, ameliorates mucosal inflammation and oxidative status, reinforces the epithelial defense barrier, and modulates visceral sensitivity and intestinal motility. In addition, a growing number of studies have stressed the role of butyrate in the prevention and inhibition of colorectal cancer. At the extraintestinal level, butyrate exerts potentially useful effects on many conditions, including hemoglobinopathies, genetic metabolic diseases, hypercholesterolemia, insulin resistance, and ischemic stroke. The mechanisms of action of butyrate are different; many of these are related to its potent regulatory effects on gene expression. These data suggest a wide spectrum of positive effects exerted by butyrate, with a high potential for a therapeutic use in human medicine.
Keywords: Carcinogenesis; Colon; Dietary fiber; Inflammation; Intestinal barrier; Ion transport; Oxidative stress; Short-chain fatty acids; Visceral perception.