Changes in Plasma Short-Chain Fatty Acid Levels after Dietary Weight Loss Among Overweight and Obese Adults over 50 Weeks

Sowah SA, Hirche F, Milanese A, Johnson TS, Grafetstatter M, Schubel R, Kirsten R, Ulrich CM, Kaaks R, Zeller G, Kuhn T, Stangl GI, Nutrients 12 (2) (2020).


Gut microbial-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) may regulate energy homeostasis and exert anti-carcinogenic, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects. Smaller trials indicate that dietary weight loss may lead to decreased SCFA production, but findings have been inconclusive. SCFA concentrations were measured by HPLC-MS/MS in plasma samples of 150 overweight or obese adults in a trial initially designed to evaluate the metabolic effects of intermittent (ICR) versus continuous (CCR) calorie restriction (NCT02449148). For the present post hoc analyses, participants were classified by quartiles of weight loss, irrespective of the dietary intervention. Linear mixed models were used to analyze weight-loss-induced changes in SCFA concentrations after 12, 24 and 50 weeks. There were no differential changes in SCFA levels across the initial study arms (ICR versus CCR versus control) after 12 weeks, but acetate concentrations significantly decreased with overall weight loss (mean log-relative change of -0.7 +/- 1.8 in the lowest quartile versus. -7.6 +/- 2 in the highest, p = 0.026). Concentrations of propionate, butyrate and other SCFAs did not change throughout the study. Our results show that weight-loss, achieved through calorie restriction, may lead to smaller initial decreases in plasma acetate, while plasma SCFAs generally remain remarkably stable over time.