Butyrate acts as an suppressor against colonic tumor in gnotobiotic mouse models


The conflict results found in studies of anti-tumor effect of dietary fiber lead to a controversial conclusion. One of the reported mechanism mentioned short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) produced from colon ferment soluble fiber by bacteria may provide beneficial effect against colorectal cancer. Donohoe et al. demonstrated dietary fiber suppress tumor progress in a microbiota- and butyrate-dependent manner. The article was published on Cancer Discovery.


Butyrate, which is abundant SCFA in colonic epithelium, has effects on inhibiting cell proliferation and promoting cell differentiation or apoptosis in tumor-derived cell lines. In this study, researchers used gnotobiotic mouse models with wild-type or mutant strains of a butyrate-producing bacterium to prove that butyrate plays a key role in suppression of colonic tumor growth in vivo. Furthermore, the data supported a mechanism that butyrate, which is the preferred energy source of healthy colonocytes, is metabolized less in colorectal tumors due to the Warburg effect. In there, it serves as a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor to promote histone acetylation, which enable to inhibit cell proliferation and stimulate apoptosis. In addition, the increase of butyrate and histone acetylation levels were found in human colorectal adenocarcinomas, indicating a relevant mechanism between cancers in human and mouse models.


Cancer Discov. 2014 Dec;4(12):1387-97. 

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