Short Chain Fatty Acids in the Colon and Peripheral Tissues: A Focus on Butyrate, Colon Cancer, Obesity and Insulin Resistance

Nutrients. 2017 Dec 12;9(12):1348. doi: 10.3390/nu9121348.


Increased dietary fiber consumption has been associated with many beneficial effects, including amelioration of obesity and insulin resistance. These effects may be due to the increased production of short chain fatty acids, including propionate, acetate and butyrate, during fermentation of the dietary fiber in the colon. Indeed, oral and dietary supplementation of butyrate alone has been shown to prevent high fat-diet induced obesity and insulin resistance. This review focuses on sources of short chain fatty acids, with emphasis on sources of butyrate, mechanisms of fiber and butyrate metabolism in the gut and its protective effects on colon cancer and the peripheral effects of butyrate supplementation in peripheral tissues in the prevention and reversal of obesity and insulin resistance.

Keywords: butyrate; obesity; short chain fatty acids; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Fermentation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Propionates / metabolism


  • Butyrates
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Propionates