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Br J Nutr. 1999 Nov;82(5):419-26.

Enhancement of butyrate production in the rat caecocolonic tract by long-term ingestion of resistant potato starch.

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Human Nutrition Research Centre, INRA, Nantes, France.


Some data suggest that the colonic microflora may adapt to produce more butyrate if given time and the proper substrate. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the effect of prolonged feeding of resistant potato starch on butyrate production. Rats were fed on either a low-fibre diet (basal) or the same diet supplemented with 90 g resistant potato starch/kg (PoS) for 0.5, 2 and 6 months. Short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations were determined in caecal and colonic contents at the end of each ingestion period. Total SCFA concentration increased over time throughout the caecocolonic tract with PoS, but was not modified with the basal diet. While propionate concentration was unchanged, butyrate concentration was highly increased by PoS at each time period in both the caecum and colon. Moreover, the butyrogenic effect of PoS increased over time, and the amount of butyrate was increased 6-fold in the caecum and proximal colon and 3-fold in the distal colon after 6 months compared with 0.5 months. Accordingly, the ratio butyrate:- total SCFA increased over time throughout the caecocolonic tract (12.6 (SE 2.8) v. 28 (SE 1.8)% in the caecum, 10.5 (SE 1.4) v. 26.8 (SE 0.9)% in the proximal colon, and 7.3 (SE 2.4) v. 23.9 (SE 2.7)% in the distal colon at 0.5 v. 6 months respectively), while the proportion of acetate decreased. Neither the proportion nor the concentration of butyrate was modified over time with the basal diet. Butyrate production was thus promoted by long-term ingestion of PoS, from the caecum towards the distal colon, which suggests that a slow adaptive process occurs within the digestive tract in response to a chronic load of indigestible carbohydrates.

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