Butyric Acid: A New Frontier of Dietary Interventions in Intestinal Health and Microbiota

Vegetable fibre that we eat is fermented in anaerobic conditions by intestinal microbiota and gives rise to a number of products, including short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), one of which is butyric acid.

The key role of SCFAs in the trophism and development of enterocytes has become widely accepted. Butyric acid in particular is recognised as a potent booster of gastrointestinal health in humans and an essential energetic component of the intestinal epithelium. It is able to positively affect the control of entero-pathogens and to enhance the protection and trophism of the mucosal barrier.  It has also been associated with other beneficial processes in intestinal health such as anti-inflammatory response and oxidative stress reduction.

Butyric acid has already been used in animal feed for more than twenty years and numerous dosage forms can be found on the market; from sodium or calcium salts to forms that are coated for delayed release and even esters of butyric acid such as tributyrin. However, the lack of experience and applications of butyric acid in human nutrition and dietetics are quite surprising.

The main dosage forms of butyric acid already commercialized for animal nutrition are:

  • Butyric acid salts (in association with sodium or calcium)
  • Coated salts, whereby the active ingredient (butyric acid salt) is coated in fat
  • Esters of butyric acid in which up to three butyric acid molecules per glycerol can be used to form tributyrins.

Some of the main actions of butyric acid in intestinal human health are shown in the next graphic:

butyric acid for SCFAs

Graphics: ELiE Health Solutions https://eliehs.com/scfas 


Although the use of butyric acid is rare in human intestinal health there are already a few companies developing formulations in the USA and in Europe.

Thus if we can draw on previous use in animal nutrition and intestinal health in poultry and porcine farming, we have the possibility of a new tool in dietary interventions for intestinal health and microbiota diversity.

The research and development of dosage forms, in particular of butyric acid, that support the appropriate intake of SCFAs (Short Chain Fatty Acids) and their delivery in the different parts of the intestine is a future area of work that will provide us with new ingredients that act on the intestinal epithelium and microbiota to add to the probiotic and prebiotic formulas already in use.

To be continued…



ELiE Health Solutions https://eliehs.com/scfas 

Papel multifactorial del butirato en la salud intestinal en aves http://nutricionanimal.info/orffa-papel-multifactorial-del-butirato-en-la-salud-intestinal-en-aves/

Tributirina, la influencia de una nueva forma de ácido butírico sobre la integridad digestiva. http://nutricionanimal.info/tributirina-la-influencia-de-una-nueva-forma-de-acido-butirico-sobre-la-integridad-digestiva/


David Manrique 

María Eugenia González