Colonic infusions of short-chain fatty acid mixtures promote energy metabolism in overweight/obese men: a randomized crossover trial

Sci Rep. 2017 May 24;7(1):2360. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02546-x.


Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), formed by microbial fermentation, are believed to be involved in the aetiology of obesity and diabetes. This study investigated the effects of colonic administration of physiologically relevant SCFA mixtures on human substrate and energy metabolism. In this randomized, double-blind, crossover study, twelve normoglycaemic men (BMI 25-35 kg/m2) underwent four investigational days, during which SCFA mixtures (200 mmol/L) high in either acetate (HA), propionate (HP), butyrate (HB) or placebo (PLA) were rectally administered during fasting and postprandial conditions (oral glucose load). Before and for two hours after colonic infusions, indirect calorimetry was performed and blood samples were collected. All three SCFA mixtures increased fasting fat oxidation (P < 0.01), whilst resting energy expenditure increased after HA and HP compared with PLA (P < 0.05). In addition, all three SCFA mixtures increased fasting and postprandial plasma peptide YY (PYY) concentrations, and attenuated fasting free glycerol concentrations versus PLA (P < 0.05). Colonic infusions of SCFA mixtures, in concentrations and ratios reached after fibre intake, increased fat oxidation, energy expenditure and PYY, and decreased lipolysis in overweight/obese men. Human intervention studies are warranted to investigate whether these effects translate into long-term benefits for body weight control and insulin sensitivity in the obese insulin resistant state.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Acetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Adult
  • Butyric Acid / administration & dosage
  • Butyric Acid / pharmacology
  • Colon / drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Fasting
  • Fats / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Parenteral
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Overweight / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Postprandial Period
  • Propionates / administration & dosage
  • Propionates / pharmacology


  • Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Propionates
  • Butyric Acid
  • propionic acid
  • Acetic Acid