Effects of Weight-Loss Interventions on Short-Chain Fatty Acid Concentrations in Blood and Feces of Adults: A Systematic Review

Sowah SA, Riedl L, Damms-Machado A, Johnson TS, Schubel R, Graf M, Kartal E, Zeller G, Schwingshackl L, Stangl GI, Kaaks R, Kuhn T, Adv Nutr 10 (4) :673-684 (2019).


Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs, mainly acetate, propionate, and butyrate), which are primarily derived from the gut microbiome, may exert anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, and regulate energy homeostasis. It has been suggested that weight loss may affect SCFA metabolism, but a systematic review of intervention studies is lacking. We aimed to systematically assess the effects of dietary, physical activity-based, and surgical weight-loss interventions among overweight [body mass index (BMI) 25-29.9 kg/m2)] or obese (BMI >/=30 kg/m2) adults (>/=18 y) on concentrations of acetate, propionate, butyrate, and total SCFAs in blood, urine, or feces. We conducted a systematic literature search in PubMed, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) up to April 30, 2018 for randomized and nonrandomized weight-loss trials among overweight or obese adults, in which the concentrations of individual and total SCFAs were assessed. A total of 9 studies consisting of 2 randomized parallel-arm trials, 4 crossover trials, and 3 nonrandomized clinical or surgical trials were included. In the majority of studies, changes in fecal SCFA concentrations were assessed, whereas changes in serum SCFAs were reported from 1 trial. Individual and total SCFA concentrations either remained unchanged or decreased significantly following weight loss. Three of the dietary interventions that resulted in decreased SCFA concentrations were low (</=5% of energy) in total carbohydrates. Most of the studies had a high risk of bias. Decreases in SCFA concentrations may accompany weight loss induced by bariatric surgery or dietary restriction among overweight or obese adults, particularly when carbohydrate intake is reduced. However, findings were inconsistent and based on studies with high to unclear risk of bias, and small sample sizes. Because measurements of fecal SCFAs may not be ideal due to limited sample standardization, well-powered trials with repeated blood measurements of SCFAs are required. This review was registered at PROSPERO as CRD42018088716.