Dietary gut microbial metabolites, short-chain fatty acids, and host metabolic regulation

Nutrients. 2015 Apr 14;7(4):2839-49. doi: 10.3390/nu7042839.


During feeding, the gut microbiota contributes to the host energy acquisition and metabolic regulation thereby influencing the development of metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as acetate, butyrate, and propionate, which are produced by gut microbial fermentation of dietary fiber, are recognized as essential host energy sources and act as signal transduction molecules via G-protein coupled receptors (FFAR2, FFAR3, OLFR78, GPR109A) and as epigenetic regulators of gene expression by the inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC). Recent evidence suggests that dietary fiber and the gut microbial-derived SCFAs exert multiple beneficial effects on the host energy metabolism not only by improving the intestinal environment, but also by directly affecting various host peripheral tissues. In this review, we summarize the roles of gut microbial SCFAs in the host energy regulation and present an overview of the current understanding of its physiological functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism*
  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Propionates / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism


  • Acetates
  • Butyrates
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Propionates
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Histone Deacetylases