Product Exposition

Pharmaceutical Use of Sodium Butyrate

Product: Sodium Butyrate

Pharmacopeia: USP

What is Sodium Butyrate?

Sodium Butyrate is sodium salt of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA). Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats that our cells need to function. Butyrate is produced when the bacteria living in our guts ferment otherwise indigestible fibres from grains, onions, beans, bananas, and other foods rich in complex carbs.

Butyrate is the preferred energy source for the cells in your colon wall. It is essential for maintaining a healthy barrier between the colon and bloodstream and it prevents inflammation in the gut. Butyrate production depends largely on the pH of the large intestine. Bacteria that produce butyrate thrive in a more acidic environment (lower pH).

How Does Sodium Butyrate Work?

Sodium Butyrate inhibits Histone Deacetylase (HDAC), an enzyme that packs up DNA into tight, compact structures and prevents it from being expressed; in other words, butyrate loosens up the DNA structure and increases gene expression. Drugs that inhibit HDAC are currently used to manage bipolar disorder and prevent epileptic seizures. Early research suggests that they may also be effective antidepressants.

The relationship between butyrate and HDAC helps explain why our gut floras have such a large influence on our mental health. Sure enough, people with major depressive disorder have fewer butyrate-producing bacteria in their intestines.

Colon Cell Energy Source

Butyrate nourishes the colon wall, maintains a healthy lining and barrier function of the colon, and prevents intestinal inflammation in the mitochondria of colon cells; 70-90% of butyrate is oxidized into acetyl-CoA, which is then used to generate large quantities of ATP, the primary form of cellular energy. If we don’t have enough butyrate-producing bacteria in your gut, you may be more likely to develop diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and even colon cancer.


  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Short-chain fatty acids, especially butyrate, can reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In one study of 13 people with Crohn’s disease, a type of IBD, butyrate supplements improved 69% of cases, with symptoms completely disappearing in 54% (seven participants). There are a variety of approaches for using butyrate to manage IBD and colitis. The treatment strategies range from a high-fibre diet to butyrate-producing probiotics, coated butyrate tablets, and rectal enemas.

  • Diarrhoea & Gut Inflammation: Butyrate can also prevent inflammation and stomach ulcers caused by alcohol. Mice given butyrate before alcohol had less inflammation and damage to the lining of their stomachs Sodium butyrate in combination with other SCFAs and silicon dioxide was also shown to benefit traveller’s diarrhoea, a condition common among those who travel to exotic countries. According to a great many studies, butyrate is vital for healthy gut flora, controlling inflammation, and maintaining a strong intestinal barrier.

  • Colon Cancer: Butyric acid is the preferred fuel for the colonic enterocyte. It has also been associated with several potential anti-cancer properties. An increase in the rate of colonic cell proliferation is believed to be a risk factor for cancer. However, all cells in the colon are programmed with a time to die by a controlled process called Apoptosis.

    It is probably the balance between the levels of proliferation and apoptosis that determine whether a cancer will or will not develop. Although butyrate has been shown to stimulate cell proliferation of normal colonic cells, it has been shown to stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells in vitro. It may also affect other important stages in carcinogenesis such as the promotion of cell differentiation and inhibition of Histone Deacetylase, which may promote DNA repair.

Benefits of Sodium Butyrate

  • 1. Butyrate is a major short-chain fatty acid produced during gut flora-mediated fermentation of dietary fibres. Legumes (beans, peas, and soybeans), fruits, nuts, cereals, and whole grains are good sources of dietary fibres. Butyrate is also found in butter and cheese.

  • 2. Animal and epidemiological studies suggest that high-fibre diet may lower colorectal cancer risk. The beneficial effects of butyrate appear to be mediated by its HDAC inhibitory activity, which promotes histone acetylation, leading to expression of genes involved in cellular differentiation and apoptosis in several cancer models.

  • 3. In this context, it has been proposed that butyrate can act in primary and secondary chemoprevention by its pleiotropic potential. Therefore, butyrate is evaluated for the prevention of inflammation-mediated ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer by lifelong continuous exposure to dietary fibre.

  • 4. Besides its HDAC inhibitory activity, butyrate was also reported to trigger DNA DE methylation by a mechanism most likely dependent on changes in chromatin structure that could also contribute to chemo preventive properties of butyrate.

Surprisingly, there are only a very limited number of reports about the effect of butyrate on miRNA. Hu and collaborators have shown that the overexpression of the cyclic-dependent kinase inhibitor (CDKN) 1A gene, coding for p21, a negative regulator of cell cycle induced by most HDAC inhibitors, is not only dependent on its HDAC inhibitory potential to increase the transcription via promoter acetylation, but also depends on the inhibition of several members of the miR-106b family, which control p21 translation. These data suggest that the preventive role of butyrate may rely on the modulation of several epigenetic mechanisms.