Worldwide obesity is a public health concern that has reached pandemic levels. Obesity is the major predisposing factor to comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, dyslipidemia, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The common forms of obesity are multifactorial and derive from a complex interplay of environmental changes and the individual genetic predisposition. Increasing evidence suggest a pivotal role played by alterations of gut microbiota (GM) that could represent the causative link between environmental factors and onset of obesity. The beneficial effects of GM are mainly mediated by the secretion of various metabolites. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate, propionate and butyrate are small organic metabolites produced by fermentation of dietary fibers and resistant starch with vast beneficial effects in energy metabolism, intestinal homeostasis and immune responses regulation. An aberrant production of SCFAs has emerged in obesity and metabolic diseases. Among SCFAs, butyrate emerged because it might have a potential in alleviating obesity and related comorbidities. Here we reviewed the preclinical and clinical data that contribute to explain the role of butyrate in this context, highlighting its crucial contribute in the diet-GM-host health axis.
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