Finding a Standard Approach to Promote Butyrate Production

Prebiotics are dietary carbohydrates that humans are unable to digest and thus pass through the stomach and small intestines to become sources of food for gut microbiota, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria consume the prebiotics and produce many metabolites which are important to host colonic health.
The David Lab is interested in developing methods that enable us to control the human gut microbiota and to steer the gut ecosystem towards a healthy state. Specifically, we aim to control production of a key metabolite, the anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acid butyrate. Using in vitro fermentations, and in vivo experiments in healthy humans and animal models of gastrointestinal disease, we are finding ways to promote butyrate production and to determine whether a single standardized approach can be applied broadly to microbiomes with very different compositions.