Regulation of Energy Expenditure and Substrate Oxidation by Short-Chain Fatty Acids

J Endocrinol. 2019 Aug;242(2):R1-R8. doi: 10.1530/JOE-19-0098.


Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are metabolites produced from the fermentation of dietary fibre by the gut microbiota. High-fibre diets have been associated with lower weight gain and a number of reports have therefore investigated if these positive effects of a dietary fibre on body weight can be replicated through the direct administration of SCFAs. Many of these studies have reported that SCFAs can prevent or attenuate long-term body weight gain by increasing energy expenditure through increased lipid oxidation. The aim of the present review is to therefore evaluate the current evidence for an effect of SCFAs on whole-body energy expenditure and to assess the potential underlying mechanisms. The available data highlights that SCFAs can exert multiple effects at various organ and tissue sites that would cumulatively raise energy expenditure via a promotion of lipid oxidation. In conclusion, the present review proposes that dietary interventions and other therapies that augment gut-derived SCFAs and systemic availability may present an effective strategy to improve long-term energy balance and body weight management.

Keywords: energy metabolism; lipid oxidation; obesity; short-chain fatty acids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile