More on Boosting Levels of Short-Chain Fatty Acids

While I’m on the subject of butyrate…

An article[i] was published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics that caught my attention.  Researchers tested the efficacy of a probiotic (one I had never heard of) called, Symprove . One of the big issues often raised about probiotics:  will the bacteria survive stomach acid to reach the intestines?  Most brands are not tested so their true efficacy is unknown.

Using a laboratory simulator of the human gut (with microbiota from health human subjects), researchers were able to determine that all the bacteria from this product made it through to the intestines where they immediately colonized.  Symprove contains 4 lactate-producing species: L rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum and E. faecium.   Lactate is food for species of bacteria that produce short chain fatty acids [SCFA].

Butyrate levels went up significantly and subsequently, “…an immunomodulatory effect of the probiotics was seen; production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and IL-10) was increased and production of inflammatory chemokines…was reduced.”

Apart from the fact that Symprove looks like a pretty good choice in probiotics, there are two other take-away points I want to leave you with today:

  1. The scientists determined that it was not actually the probiotic bacteria themselves which conferred the benefit to the gut biome…it was the lactate they produce, that fed SCFA-producing bacteria.  The increased amount of these SCFA-producing bacteria led to a marked increase in anti-inflammatory products, like butyrate:  “The data presented here clearly suggest that in fact integration and colonisation of the probiotic species within the existing microbiota, and the generation of a utilizable nutrient (lactate), stimulates growth of the largely beneficial phyla meaning that it is the rebalancing of bacterial families that confers health benefits to the host.”
  2. The importance of short chain fatty acids cannot be understated. These three sentences really jumped out at me (I’ve added the underlining for emphasis):

“…dysbiosis in ulcerative colitis (UC) patients has been linked to a reduction in butyrate-producing species, reduced levels of propionate-producing species have been linked with asthma in children while broad changes in the gut microbiota have been linked with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)…It has also been proposed that butyrate produced from a high-fiber diet can improve brain health and function.  Ensuring the gut microbiota is optimally balanced and so producing high SCFA, especially butyrate, levels is therefore an important focus in maintaining and improving general health and wellbeing.”

A trial of Symprove is definitely in my future!


[i] Moens F et al. A four-strain probiotic exerts positive immunomodulatory effects by enhancing colonic butyrate production in vitro. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2018:

One Comment on “More on Boosting Levels of Short-Chain Fatty Acids

  1. Pingback: Have I Ever Mentioned that Diet is Key? or…Introducing Roseburia intestinalis – THE BIOME BUZZ

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