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Control of appetite and energy intake by SCFA: what are the potential underlying mechanisms?

  • Edward S. Chambers (a1), Douglas J. Morrison (a2) and Gary Frost (a1)


In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the role of dietary fibre in obesity management. Much of this interest stems from animal and human studies which suggest that an increased intake of fermentable fibre can suppress appetite and improve weight management. A growing number of reports have demonstrated that the principal products of colonic fermentation of dietary fibre, SCFA, contribute to energy homeostasis via effects on multiple cellular metabolic pathways and receptor-mediated mechanisms. In particular, over the past decade it has been identified that a widespread receptor system exists for SCFA. These G-protein-coupled receptors, free fatty acid receptor (FFAR) 2 and FFAR3 are expressed in numerous tissue sites, including the gut epithelium and adipose tissue. Investigations using FFAR2- or FFAR3-deficient animal models suggest that SCFA-mediated stimulation of these receptors enhances the release of the anorectic hormones peptide tyrosine tyrosine and glucagon-like peptide-1 from colonic L cells and leptin from adipocytes. In addition, the SCFA acetate has recently been shown to have a direct role in central appetite regulation. Furthermore, the SCFA propionate is a known precursor for hepatic glucose production, which has been reported to suppress feeding behaviour in ruminant studies through the stimulation of hepatic vagal afferents. The present review therefore proposes that an elevated colonic production of SCFA could stimulate numerous hormonal and neural signals at different organ and tissue sites that would cumulatively suppress short-term appetite and energy intake.

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Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Edward S. Chambers, email


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