Uptake and Metabolism of the Short-Chain Fatty Acid Butyrate, a Critical Review of the Literature

Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group, Academic Unit of Surgical Oncology, Department of Oncology, University of Sheffield, Beech Hill Road, Sheffield, S10 2JF, UK.
Current Drug Metabolism (Impact Factor: 2.98). 05/2012; 13(6):815-21. DOI: 10.2174/138920012800840428
Source: PubMed


Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) formed by bacterial fermentation of fibre in the colon, and serves as an energy source for colonocytes. The action of butyrate as a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) has led to a number of clinical trials testing its effectiveness as a potential treatment for cancer. The biology of butyrate transport is therefore relevant to both its physiological and pharmacological benefits. This review of the literature was carried out to assess the evidence for both the uptake and metabolism of butyrate, in an attempt to determine possible mechanism (s) by which butyrate can act as an HDACi. It is noted that although uptake and metabolism are well characterised, there are still significant gaps in the knowledgebase around the intracellular handing of butyrate, where assumptions or dated evidence are relied upon.

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