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Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6):1241-7.

Propionate inhibits incorporation of colonic [1,2-13C]acetate into plasma lipids in humans.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Acetate and propionate, produced during colonic fermentation of unabsorbed carbohydrate, may influence systemic lipid metabolism. As a preliminary study to see whether colonic acetate is incorporated into plasma lipids and whether propionate inhibits this process, 5 healthy males were studied after fasting overnight. They were given, in random order, 12.5 mmol (1.05 g) [1,2-13C]sodium acetate by intravenous or rectal infusion, and the rectal infusion was given with or without 6 mmol (0.58 g) sodium propionate. Two hours after rectal acetate, 13C recoveries in plasma cholesterol (0.59 +/- 0.22%) and triglycerides (1.24 +/- 0.69%) were significantly greater than after intravenous acetate (0.09 +/- 0.12% and 0.29 +/- 0.18%, respectively). Addition of propionate reduced 13C recovery in triglycerides (0.19 +/- 0.06%, P = 0.024) compared with rectal acetate alone, but the effect on cholesterol (0.26 +/- 0.05%) was not significant. These data suggest that incorporation of colonic acetate into plasma triglycerides is inhibited by propionate. Further studies are required to quantify the effects of colonic acetate and propionate on lipid synthesis.

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