Stimulation of intestinal mucosal growth with intracolonic infusion of short-chain fatty acids

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1989 Mar-Apr;13(2):109-16. doi: 10.1177/0148607189013002109.


Dietary fiber, which stimulates intestinal mucosal growth, is fermented by anaerobic bacteria in the rat hindgut to the short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) acetate, propionate, and butyrate. Butyrate is the preferred oxidative fuel of the colonocyte in vitro, and the provision of preferred intestinal fuels has been shown to stimulate mucosal proliferation in vivo. This study determined whether chronic colonic infusion of butyrate or a combination of SCFA would stimulate intestinal mucosal growth in an animal deprived of its normal source of SCFA, fiber fermentation in the cecum. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a fat- and fiber-free elemental liquid diet and underwent cecectomy, ileocolic anastomosis, and insertion of a proximal colonic infusion catheter. Rats were then assigned to receive either a continuous infusion of butyrate (20 mM, 40 mM, or 150 mM), SCFA (70 mM acetate + 35 mM propionate + 20 mM butyrate), or saline, or to receive no infusion. A seventh group underwent proximal colonic transection and reanastomosis. After 7 days, jejunal, ileal, and proximal colonic segments were analyzed for mucosal weight, protein, RNA, and DNA. In the colon, the 40-mM butyrate infusion resulted in significant elevations in all mucosal parameters relative to all three control groups, saline infusion, no infusion, and transection. Both the 20-mM butyrate and the SCFA groups showed increased colonic mucosal DNA compared to controls. In the jejunum and ileum, mucosal DNA content was significantly greater in the SCFA group than in the control groups.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / administration & dosage
  • Acetates / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Butyrates / administration & dosage
  • Butyrates / pharmacology
  • Colon / ultrastructure
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / growth & development
  • Male
  • Propionates / administration & dosage
  • Propionates / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Acetates
  • Butyrates
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Propionates