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Eur J Cancer. 1995 Jul-Aug;31A(7-8):1077-80.

Role of short-chain fatty acids in the prevention of colorectal cancer.

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Department of Medicine, University of W├╝rzburg, Germany.


Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs: acetate, propionate, n-butyrate) arising in the large bowel during bacterial fermentation of dietary fibre and starch have paradoxical effects on colonic epithelial proliferation. While the three major SCFAs stimulate proliferation of normal crypt cells, n-butyrate and, to a lesser degree, propionate inhibit growth of colon cancer cell lines. At the molecular level, n-butyrate causes histone acetylation, favours differentiation, induces apoptosis and regulates the expression of various oncogenes. To understand the complex effects of SCFAs on carcinogenesis, it is important to study the intermediate stages of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence where a "switch" from stimulation to suppression of cell proliferation must occur.

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