Formation of short chain fatty acids by the gut microbiota and their impact on human metabolism

Gut Microbes. 2016 May 3;7(3):189-200. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2015.1134082. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


The formation of SCFA is the result of a complex interplay between diet and the gut microbiota within the gut lumen environment. The discovery of receptors, across a range of cell and tissue types for which short chain fatty acids SCFA appear to be the natural ligands, has led to increased interest in SCFA as signaling molecules between the gut microbiota and the host. SCFA represent the major carbon flux from the diet through the gut microbiota to the host and evidence is emerging for a regulatory role of SCFA in local, intermediary and peripheral metabolism. However, a lack of well-designed and controlled human studies has hampered our understanding of the significance of SCFA in human metabolic health. This review aims to pull together recent findings on the role of SCFA in human metabolism to highlight the multi-faceted role of SCFA on different metabolic systems.

Keywords: glucose homeostasis; gut microbiota; host metabolic health; inflammation; short chain fatty acids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile