Role of Gut Microbiota-Generated Short-Chain Fatty Acids in Metabolic and Cardiovascular Health

Curr Nutr Rep. 2018 Dec;7(4):198-206. doi: 10.1007/s13668-018-0248-8.


Purpose of this review: This review assesses the latest evidence linking short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) with host metabolic health and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and presents the latest evidence on possible biological mechanisms.

Recent findings: SCFA have a range of effects locally in the gut and at both splanchnic and peripheral tissues which together appear to induce improved metabolic regulation and have direct and indirect effects on markers of CVD risk. SCFA produced primarily from the microbial fermentation of dietary fibre appear to be key mediators of the beneficial effects elicited by the gut microbiome. Not only does dietary fibre fermentation regulate microbial activity in the gut, SCFA also directly modulate host health through a range of tissue-specific mechanisms related to gut barrier function, glucose homeostasis, immunomodulation, appetite regulation and obesity. With the increasing burden of obesity worldwide, the role for gut microbiota-generated SCFA in protecting against the effects of energy dense diets offers an intriguing new avenue for regulating metabolic health and CVD risk.

Keywords: Appetite regulation; Blood pressure; Cardiovascular disease; Fermentation; Glucose homeostasis; Gut microbiome; Inflammation; Metabolic health; Obesity; Short-chain fatty acids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / microbiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fermentation*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Health Status
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / microbiology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Fatty Acids