Is butyrate the link between diet, intestinal microbiota and obesity-related metabolic diseases?

Obes Rev. 2013 Dec;14(12):950-9. doi: 10.1111/obr.12068. Epub 2013 Aug 16.


It is increasingly recognized that there is a connection between diet, intestinal microbiota, intestinal barrier function and the low-grade inflammation that characterizes the progression from obesity to metabolic disturbances, making dietary strategies to modulate the intestinal environment relevant. In this context, the ability of some Gram-positive anaerobic bacteria to produce the short-chain fatty acid butyrate is interesting. A lower abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria has been associated with metabolic risk in humans, and recent studies suggest that butyrate might have an anti-inflammatory potential that can alleviate obesity-related metabolic complications, possibly due to its ability to enhance the intestinal barrier function. Here, we review and discuss the potential of butyrate as an anti-inflammatory mediator in metabolic diseases, and the potential for dietary interventions increasing the intestinal availability of butyrate.

Keywords: Butyrate; butyrate-producing bacteria; intestinal microbiota; obesity-related diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / immunology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / metabolism*
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / immunology
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / metabolism
  • Butyrates / immunology
  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / microbiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Microbiota / immunology
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Obesity / complications


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Butyrates