Gut microbiota-derived succinate: Friend or foe in human metabolic diseases?

Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2019 Dec;20(4):439-447. doi: 10.1007/s11154-019-09513-z.


There is now a wealth of evidence showing that communication between microbiota and the host is critical to sustain the vital functions of the healthy host, and disruptions of this homeostatic coexistence are known to be associated with a range of diseases including obesity and type 2 diabetes. Microbiota-derived metabolites act both as nutrients and as messenger molecules and can signal to distant organs in the body to shape host pathophysiology. In this review, we provide a new perspective on succinate as a gut microbiota-derived metabolite with a key role governing intestinal homeostasis and energy metabolism. Thus, succinate is not merely a major intermediary of the TCA traditionally considered as an extracellular danger signal in the host, but also a by-product of some bacteria and a primary cross-feeding metabolite between gut resident microbes. In addition to maintain a healthy microbiome, specific functions of microbiota-derived succinate in peripheral tissues regulating host nutrient metabolism should not be rule out. Indeed, recent research point to some probiotic interventions directed to modulate succinate levels in the intestinal lumen, as a new microbiota-based therapies to treat obesity and related co-morbidities. While further research is essential, a large body of evidence point to succinate as a new strategic mediator in the microbiota-host cross-talk, which might provide the basis for new therapeutically approaches in a near future.

Keywords: Metabolism; Microbiota; Succinate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / microbiology*
  • Succinic Acid / metabolism*


  • Succinic Acid