Gastrointestinal tract: intestinal fatty acid metabolism and implications for health

L. Hoyles, R. J. Wallace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are formed from the fermentation of sugars by intestinal bacteria. Acetate is the most abundant SCFA, with lower amounts of propionate and butyrate formed. Propionate and butyrate are also formed from the products of carbohydrate fermentation by other bacteria, for example from lactate and acetate. SCFA play a role in regulating transit of digesta through the intestine, and butyrate formation is thought to be beneficial to health because butyrate decreases the risk of colon cancer. Major butyrate-producing species are among the most abundant present in the colon, including Roseburia and Faecalibacterium spp. Metabolism of longer-chain fatty acids occurs mainly by hydration or hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids. Hydroxystearic acids are formed in the intestine, particularly under disease conditions. Metabolism of linoleic acid results in the formation of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) by several species, including Roseburia hominis and Roseburia inulinovorans. Enhancement of intestinal CLA formation, possibly using probiotics, may be useful in preventing or treating inflammatory bowel disease.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology
EditorsK. N. Timmis
Place of PublicationBerlin, Germany
Pages 3119-3132
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3540775874
ISBN (Print)3540775846, 978-3540775843
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2009

Publication series

NameHandbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology


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