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Colonic fermentation of complex carbohydrates in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis.
  1. D M Bradburn,
  2. J C Mathers,
  3. A Gunn,
  4. J Burn,
  5. P D Chapman,
  6. I D Johnston
  1. Department of Surgery, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.


    Decreased production of butyric acid by colonic carbohydrate fermentation may predispose to colonic carcinogenesis, with the implicit assumption that the decrease in faecal butyrate found predates the development of the tumour. The influence of the genetic predisposition to colonic tumours and the presence of colonic polyps on in vitro fermentation of carbohydrates was examined. Stool samples from 11 normal controls and 20 patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) were incubated anaerobically with a range of carbohydrates. Fermentation patterns were similar for glucose and raffinose. These sugars produced different short chain fatty acid (SCFA) patterns from the two polysaccharides, starch and arabinogalactan, which differed one from the other. The FAP gene carriers with polyps produced less butyrate than normal controls (p < 0.005) and gene carriers without polyps (p < 0.05). There were corresponding decreases in the molar ratios of butyrate. Gene carriers without polyps produced less absolute amounts of acetate than normal controls (p < 0.05) and slightly less total SCFAs (p < 0.05) but were otherwise not significantly different. The decreased production of butyrate noted by other workers may be secondary to the tumours rather than a contributory cause.

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