Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and other butyric acid producing bacteria may be a treatment for IBD

Saw this article ("Gut bug may hold key to inflammatory bowel disease treatment") today about trials in mice of F. prausnitzii that produced promising results in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). See my blog post from August 2009 on the initial findings related to F. prausnitzii - Lack of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii Bacteria May Contribute to Crohn's.

Here's an excerpt from the more recent article about the trials:

While the exact causes are unclear, IBD is known to be the result of an overactive immune response that is linked to an imbalance of the normal types of bacteria found in the gut.

Several recent studies have identified butyric acid as a potential therapeutic agent for IBD. Some gut bacteria produce butyric acid naturally in the intestines, but in IBD patients some of these strains are heavily depleted.

Trials in mice have shown that injecting one such strain Faecalibacterium prausnitzii into the digestive tract is effective at restoring normal levels of gut bacteria and treating the symptoms of IBD.

In addition, novel identified butyrate-producing strains, such as Butyricicoccus pullicaecorum, have been shown to exert similar effects.

Butyric acid has well-known anti-inflammatory effects and is able to strengthen intestinal wall cells - making it an ideal therapeutic agent against IBD.

In addition to butyric acid, it is hypothesized that strains such as F. prausnitzii and B.pullicaecorum secrete other anti-inflammatory compounds that may enhance the therapeutic effect.

Prof. Filip Van Immerseel, a medical microbiologist from Ghent University in Belgium said that a new treatment for IBD would be welcomed.

“Conventional drug therapy has limited effectiveness and considerable side effects. Probiotics are live bacterial supplements or food ingredients, which when taken in sufficient numbers confer health benefits to the host,” he said.

There are likely more strains of gut bacteria that produce butyric acid, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a probiotic treatment in the coming months or years.


  1. Hello, was wondering where I could buy some of this Butyric acid? or the F p.... probiotic? I have not found it, I have found a company selling Butyric acid but I'm always skeptical of buying drugs off the internet? Please please please help

  2. Appreciate the question. You're definitely right to be skeptical and cautious. I haven't looked into sources of F. prausnitzii in probiotics. If you find it in a commercial (legitimate) probiotic, definitely let me know. In terms of taking butyric acid, doesn't seem like a good idea off-hand. I think you can find it naturally in some spoiled wine (, but that just sort of reinforces why it might not be a good idea to supplement with it directly.

  3. Can anyone please tell me if these 2 probiotics (Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Butyricicoccus pullicaecorum) are available on the market yet?

  4. These are obligate anaerobic bacteria. How in the heck are they supposed to be made into commercial products? The cost to create a capsule completely impermeable to oxygen alone is astonishing, let alone creating an anaerobic setting to culture them in sufficient quantities and going through the regulatory hurdles. And on the question of butyrate, don't take butyrate, eat veggies and other plant foods and let the gut flora make it for you!

    Eric Yarnell, ND


      Fecal transplants are becoming more available and common.

  5. Couldn't you package the anaerobic bacteria in oil the way Natren does? Yes, their probiotics are expensive, but not prohibitively so.

  6. Anyone interested in Butyric acid producing Bacteria should google "BIFILAC" . This is a japanese probiotic product that has been used in human medicine for several years.

  7. A food source with high amounts of Butyric acid is BUTTER. As a matter of fact, the name Butyric is derived from the word butter. I wouldn't recommend consuming large quantities of it though, especially if you are lactose intolerant and the fact that fat alone is a hardship for people suffering from crohn's is another reason to approach butter with caution. I have noticed that moderate amounts, 1 tsp in a sitting, is tolerable but not willing to go for more than that lest something unpleasant happens.

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