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Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are saturated fatty acids composed of one to six carbons of which acetic (C2), propionic (C3), and butyric (C4) are in the largest quantity. Besides these, other SCFAs, such as iso-Butyric (C4), valeric (C5), and iso-Valeric (C5), are present in lower amounts, mainly derived from gut microbial fermentation of dietary fiber and nondigestible polysaccharides.
Circulating SCFAs have demonstrated positive effects on the metabolism and allied function of tissues and organs beyond the colon. SCFAs have been shown to reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. They can be transported across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) into the brain and cerebrospinal fluid and affect the permeability of the BBB and brain function. SCFAs may be involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters and neurotrophins, which play important roles in learning, memory, circadian rhythm, appetite, and brain disorders. They play a relevant role in the regulation of the metabolism of fatty acids, glucose, and cholesterol. In addition, SCFAs contribute to the regulation of host immune responses due to their ability to induce antimicrobial peptide production and regulate the number and function of regulatory T cells (Tregs).
Fig.1 Summary of beneficial effects of SCFA.
SCFAs are an emerging biomarker of metabolic diseases, including central obesity. They represent a target for measuring gut health and have been proposed as potential diagnostic biomarkers. In addition, assessment of SCFAs in fecal samples could provide a faster, more reliable, and less expensive method to highlight the presence of dysbiosis in the gut rather than microbiota characterization.
To analyze the relationship between diet, gut microbiota, and host health, SCFA needs to be measured. Therefore, a reliable, convenient, and sensitive SCFA analysis method will undoubtedly be helpful for relevant research. Different methods have been used for analyzing SCFAs in biological samples, which include high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in combination with ultraviolet (UV) detection, electrochemical detection (ECD), and mass spectrometry (MS), or gas chromatography (GC) with flame ionization detection (FID) or MS. In addition, capillary electrophoresis (CE) has been also used for SCFA quantification.
Most described SCFAs analytical methods have advantages and drawbacks. The performance of GC/FID or MS, HPLC, NMR, and even CE methods for detecting SCFAs was acceptable in terms of the expected concentration of SCFAs in fecal samples. Changes in SCFA concentration in feces can reflect the balance between SCFA production and absorption in the colon, and stool samples are the most commonly used specimens to study the association between SCFA concentration and disease.
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For Research Use Only. Not intended for use in food manufacturing or medical procedures (diagnostics or therapeutics). Do Not Use in Humans.