Fermentation of polysaccharides and absorption of short chain fatty acids in the mammalian hindgut

Comp Biochem Physiol A Comp Physiol. 1988;90(4):563-8. doi: 10.1016/0300-9629(88)90668-8.


1. Hindgut volume varies considerably between carnivores, omnivores and herbivores. But a common feature in all mammals is an extensive microbial fermentation of polysaccharides in the hindgut. Large amounts of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are produced. Total concentrations of SCFA are generally ca 100 mmol/l. SCFA metabolism contributes considerably to the energy metabolism of the animal. 2. In hindgut fermenting herbivores ileal outflow provides fluid and the buffering capacity essential for microbial metabolism. 3. SCFA are rapidly absorbed. Absorption is passive and, unexpectedly, nearly independent from luminal pH. This is attributed to the presence of a constant pH-microclimate at the epithelial surface. 4. The permeability of the proximal compared to the distal colon of guinea pig is higher for acetate, equal for propionate and lower for butyrate. This difference is due to partial absorption of SCFA in the dissociated form in the proximal segment. 5. Protons required for SCFA transport in the undissociated form may be partially explained by HCO3 accumulation or by Na-H exchange. Findings are controversial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cecum / metabolism*
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fermentation*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Mammals
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity


  • Fatty Acids
  • Polysaccharides