Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 317
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Morrison, Douglas J. and Preston, Tom 2016. Formation of short chain fatty acids by the gut microbiota and their impact on human metabolism. Gut Microbes, Vol. 7, Issue. 3, p. 189.

    Karimi, Reza Azizi, Mohammad Hossein Ghasemlou, Mehran and Vaziri, Moharam 2015. Application of inulin in cheese as prebiotic, fat replacer and texturizer: A review. Carbohydrate Polymers, Vol. 119, p. 85.

    Wolf, Kyle J. and Lorenz, Robin G. 2012. Gut Microbiota and Obesity. Current Obesity Reports, Vol. 1, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Nichols, Andrew W. 2007. Probiotics and athletic performance: A systematic review. Current Sports Medicine Reports, Vol. 6, Issue. 4, p. 269.

    Arora, Tulika and Sharma, Rajkumar 2011. Fermentation potential of the gut microbiome: implications for energy homeostasis and weight management. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 69, Issue. 2, p. 99.

    Remely, Marlene and Haslberger, Alexander G. 2016. The microbial epigenome in metabolic syndrome. Molecular Aspects of Medicine,

    Cusack, Siobhán Claesson, Marcus J and O’Toole, Paul W 2011. How beneficial is the use of probiotic supplements for the aging gut?. Aging Health, Vol. 7, Issue. 2, p. 179.

    Pevsner-Fischer, Meirav Rot, Chagai Tuganbaev, Timur and Elinav, Eran 2016. Immune Rebalancing.

    McKenney, Elizabeth S. Kendall, Melissa M. and Napier, Brooke 2016. Microbiota and pathogen ‘pas de deux’: setting up and breaking down barriers to intestinal infection. Pathogens and Disease, Vol. 74, Issue. 5, p. ftw051.

    Nakagawa, Ryusuke and Yoshimura, Akihiko 2015. Interaction between gut microbiota and host immune cells. Inflammation and Regeneration, Vol. 35, Issue. 3, p. 140.

    Lawley, Trevor D. and Walker, Alan W. 2013. Intestinal colonization resistance. Immunology, Vol. 138, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Macfarlane, George T. and Macfarlane, Sandra 2011. Fermentation in the Human Large Intestine. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Vol. 45, p. S120.

    Potrykus, Joanna White, Robert L. and Bearne, Stephen L. 2008. Proteomic investigation of amino acid catabolism in the indigenous gut anaerobe Fusobacterium varium. PROTEOMICS, Vol. 8, Issue. 13, p. 2691.

    Ng, Wing-Keong and Koh, Chik-Boon 2016. The utilization and mode of action of organic acids in the feeds of cultured aquatic animals. Reviews in Aquaculture, p. n/a.

    Arora, Tulika Sharma, Rajkumar and Frost, Gary 2011. Propionate. Anti-obesity and satiety enhancing factor?. Appetite, Vol. 56, Issue. 2, p. 511.

    Binder, Henry J. 2010. Role of Colonic Short-Chain Fatty Acid Transport in Diarrhea. Annual Review of Physiology, Vol. 72, Issue. 1, p. 297.

    Heiman, Mark L. and Greenway, Frank L. 2016. A healthy gastrointestinal microbiome is dependent on dietary diversity. Molecular Metabolism, Vol. 5, Issue. 5, p. 317.

    Xiao, Jin Li, Xiao Min, Xiao and Sakaguchi, Ei 2013. Mannitol improves absorption and retention of calcium and magnesium in growing rats. Nutrition, Vol. 29, Issue. 1, p. 325.

    Vogt, Stefanie L. Peña-Díaz, Jorge and Finlay, B. Brett 2015. Chemical communication in the gut: Effects of microbiota-generated metabolites on gastrointestinal bacterial pathogens. Anaerobe, Vol. 34, p. 106.

    Schippa, Serena and Conte, Maria 2014. Dysbiotic Events in Gut Microbiota: Impact on Human Health. Nutrients, Vol. 6, Issue. 12, p. 5786.


Regulation of short-chain fatty acid production

  • Sandra Macfarlane (a1) and George T. Macfarlane (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 05 March 2007

Short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) formation by intestinal bacteria is regulated by many different host, environmental, dietary and microbiological factors. In broad terms, however, substrate availability, bacterial species composition of the microbiota and intestinal transit time largely determine the amounts and types of SCFA that are produced in healthy individuals. The majority of SCFA in the gut are derived from bacterial breakdown of complex carbohydrates, especially in the proximal bowel, but digestion of proteins and peptides makes an increasing contribution to SCFA production as food residues pass through the bowel. Bacterial hydrogen metabolism also affects the way in which SCFA are made. This outcome can be seen through the effects of inorganic electron acceptors (nitrate, sulfate) on fermentation processes, where they facilitate the formation of more oxidised SCFA such as acetate, at the expense of more reduced fatty acids, such as butyrate. Chemostat studies using pure cultures of saccharolytic gut micro-organisms demonstrate that C availability and growth rate strongly affect the outcome of fermentation. For example, acetate and formate are the major bifidobacterial fermentation products formed during growth under C limitation, whereas acetate and lactate are produced when carbohydrate is in excess. Lactate is also used as an electron sink in Clostridium perfringens and, to a lesser extent, in Bacteroides fragilis. In the latter organism acetate and succinate are the major fermentation products when substrate is abundant, whereas succinate is decarboxylated to produce propionate when C and energy sources are limiting.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Regulation of short-chain fatty acid production
      Your Kindle email address
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Regulation of short-chain fatty acid production
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Regulation of short-chain fatty acid production
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Professor G. T. Macfarlane, fax +44 1382 633952,
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A Bernalier , J Dore , M Durand (1999) Biochemistry of fermentation Colonic Microbiota, Nutrition and Health 3753 [GR Gibson MB Roberfroid , editor]. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

JH Cummings , SA Bingham , KW Heaton , MA Eastwood (1992) Fecal weight, colon cancer risk, and dietary intake of nonstarch polysaccharides (dietary fiber). Gastroenterology 103, 17831789.

JH Cummings , GT Macfarlane (1991) The control and consequences of bacterial fermentation in the human colon – a review. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 70, 443459.

JH Cummings , EW Pomare , WJ Branch , CPE Naylor , GT Macfarlane (1987) Short chain fatty acids in human large intestine, portal, hepatic and venous blood. Gut 28, 12211227.

GR Gibson , S Macfarlane , GT Macfarlane (1993) Metabolic interactions involving sulphate-reducing and methanogenic bacteria in the human large intestine. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 12, 117125.

GT Macfarlane , HN Englyst (1986) Starch utilization by the human large intestinal microflora. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 60, 195201.

GT Macfarlane , GR Gibson , JH Cummings (1992) Comparison of fermentation reactions in different regions of the human colon. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 72, 5764.

S Macfarlane , ME Quigley , MJ Hopkins , DF Newton , GT Macfarlane (1998) Effect of retention time on polysaccharide degradation by mixed populations of human colonic bacteria studied under multi-substrate limiting conditions in a three-stage compound continuous culture system. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 26, 231243.

AA Salyers (1984) Bacteroides of the human lower intestinal tract. Annual Review in Microbiology 38, 293313.

AA Salyers , JAZ Leedle (1983) Carbohydrate utilization in the human colon.In Human Intestinal Microflora in Health and Disease 129146 [DJ Hentges , editor]. London: Academic Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *