Gut doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2014-307913
  • Gut microbiota
  • Original article

Effects of targeted delivery of propionate to the human colon on appetite regulation, body weight maintenance and adiposity in overweight adults

Open AccessPress Release
  1. Gary Frost1
  1. 1Nutrition and Dietetic Research Group, Section of Investigative Medicine, Imperial College London, 6th Floor Commonwealth Building, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Stable Isotope Biochemistry Laboratory, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Section of Investigative Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK
  4. 4School of Science, University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, UK
  5. 5Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  6. 6Metabolic and Molecular Imaging Research Group, MRC Clinical Science Centre, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK
  7. 7Imperial Clinical Trials Unit, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  8. 8Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  9. 9Leatherhead Food Research, Randall's Road Leatherhead, Surrey, UK
  10. 10Diabetes and Metabolism Division, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Gary Frost, Nutrition and Dietetic Research Group, Section of Investigative Medicine, Imperial College London, 6th Floor Commonwealth Building, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK; g.frost{at}
  • Received 24 June 2014
  • Revised 5 September 2014
  • Accepted 23 September 2014
  • Published Online First 10 December 2014


Objective The colonic microbiota ferment dietary fibres, producing short chain fatty acids. Recent evidence suggests that the short chain fatty acid propionate may play an important role in appetite regulation. We hypothesised that colonic delivery of propionate would increase peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion in humans, and reduce energy intake and weight gain in overweight adults.

Design To investigate whether propionate promotes PYY and GLP-1 secretion, a primary cultured human colonic cell model was developed. To deliver propionate specifically to the colon, we developed a novel inulin-propionate ester. An acute randomised, controlled cross-over study was used to assess the effects of this inulin-propionate ester on energy intake and plasma PYY and GLP-1 concentrations. The long-term effects of inulin-propionate ester on weight gain were subsequently assessed in a randomised, controlled 24-week study involving 60 overweight adults.

Results Propionate significantly stimulated the release of PYY and GLP-1 from human colonic cells. Acute ingestion of 10 g inulin-propionate ester significantly increased postprandial plasma PYY and GLP-1 and reduced energy intake. Over 24 weeks, 10 g/day inulin-propionate ester supplementation significantly reduced weight gain, intra-abdominal adipose tissue distribution, intrahepatocellular lipid content and prevented the deterioration in insulin sensitivity observed in the inulin-control group.

Conclusions These data demonstrate for the first time that increasing colonic propionate prevents weight gain in overweight adult humans.

Trial registration number NCT00750438.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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