Butyric Acid

Butyric Acid – Preparation, Properties and Uses

Butyric acid also known as butanoic acid is a carboxylic acid with the formula C4H8O2 or CH3CH2CH2CO2H. It is an oily and colourless liquid with a butter-like taste and an unpleasing odour. Its esters and salts are called butanoates or butyrates.

Bacteria that are involved in fermentation to produce butyrate include eubacterium limosum, fusobacterium nucleatum, clostridium pasteurianum, butyrivibrio fribrisolvens, clostridium kluyveri, and clostridium butyricum.

The properties of butyric acid were first revealed in detailed form in 1923 by Michael Eugène Chevreul, a chemist from France. He named it butyric acid which means butter in Ancient Greek because his research showed that the substance is the reason why butter smells how it does.

However, Lieben and Rossi are regarded as the discoverers of this liquid after they made their properties known to the public in 1869. Furthermore, the fermentation of butyrate was discovered in 1861 by Louis Pasteur.

Through hydrolysis, it can be released from the glyceride of butter when its taste and smell become offensive, further giving it an unpleasant odor. Its food sources include breast milk, red meat, ghee, animal fat, butter, vegetable oils, and lots more.

Butyric is also found in the gut of living creatures and is formed when the dietary fiber in the body is fermented by bacteria. Butyric is also classified as a short-chain fatty acid and helps to energize the body’s colon cells.

Preparation Of Butyric Acid

Butyric Acid

• It is produced by the fermentation of anaerobic bacteria which leads to the breakdown of glucose to also form dual molecules of hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

C6H12O6 —> C4H8O2 + 2 H2 + 2 CO2

• Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) decomposes when exposed to excess heat to release butyric acid.

• Industrially, the oxo synthesis from syngas and propene produces butanal/butyraldehyde which undergoes oxidation to produce butyric acid.

CO + H2 + CH3CH=CH2 = CH3CH2CH2CHO —> butyric acid.

• Its saturation with salts enhances its separation from aqueous solutions.

• Butyric acid can also be produced in the body when dietary fiber is fermented by bacteria.

Chemical Properties Of Butyric Acid

• Butyric acid reacts with phosphorus trichloride to form butyryl chloride, phosphorus chloride oxide, and hydrogen chloride.

C4H8O2 + PCl3 = C4H7OCl + POCl + HCl

• Butyric reacts with ethanol to form ethyl butyrate and water.

C4H8O2 + C2H5OH = C6H12O2 + H2O

• Butyric acid reacts with methanol to form butylene glycol and water.

CH3OH + C4H8O2 = C4H10O2 + H2O

• Butyric also reacts with ammonia to form butyrate butanoate and ammonium.

C4H8O2 + NH3 = NH4 + C4H7O2

• Butyric acid reacts with sodium hydroxide to form sodium butyrate and water.

C4H8O2 + NaOH = C4H7O2Na + H2O

• Butyric acid is treated with water to produce acetic acid and ether.

C4H8O2 + H2O = C2H6O + CH3COOH

Physical Properties Of Butyric Acid

Uses Of Butyric Acid

It is a colourless liquid with a molar mass of 88.11 g/mol, a density of 960 kg/m3, and a flash point of 170°F (72°C).

It boils at 163.6°C (326.75°F) and melts at 17.8°F (- 7.9°C). It is also miscible in alcohol and water.

Uses Of Butyric Acid

• It is used as a flavoring agent in the production of food.

• It is used in the production of numerous butyrate esters.

• It is used in the production of disinfectants.

• Its derivatives can be used in the production of anaesthetics and other pharmaceutical products.

• It is used as bait in fishing.

READ MORE: Platinum - Production, Properties, Reactions and Uses

• It is used in the decalcification of hides.

• It is used to reduce the risk of colon cancer and improve digestive health in humans.

• It is used in the production of Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) which is used in the chemical industry for diverse purposes.

• It is used as an additive in perfumes.

• It is used to energize colon cells in the body.

• It is used in the production of varnishes.

Health Concerns

Health Concern Of Butyric Acid

According to research, excess production of butyric acid in the body due to increased intake of dietary fiber can decrease your risk of suffering from colon cancer.

However, ingestion of butyric acid as a liquid will lead to irritation of the stomach and mouth while inhaling it will lead to vomiting and nausea. It can also cause burns and injuries to the skin and eyes respectively if it comes in contact with them.

Importance of Butyric Acid in the Chemical Industry

Butyric acid is a four-carbon straight short chain fatty acid (SCFA) found in animal fats and plant oils. It also occurs in rancid butter, parmesan cheese, body odor and vomit.

It is produced by the bacterial fermentation of non-digestible pentoses, including resistant starch, oligosaccharides (prebiotics such as inulin) and disaccharides in whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. It is absorbed in the colon.

It is an Energy Substrate for Colon Cells

Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that acts as an energy substrate for colon cells. It also stimulates their growth and differentiation. It is produced naturally by intestinal bacteria and found in food, including butter, hard cheeses (e.g. parmesan), milk, yoghurts and some other fermented foods. It is also available as a dietary supplement.

Studies suggest that butyric acid is an important source of energy for intestinal epithelial cells, especially in conditions with accelerated cell proliferation or inflammation. These include inflammatory bowel disease, radiation proctitis, and diabetes. SCFAs are also important for maintaining healthy gut bacteria and stimulating immunological tolerance.

The synthesis of butyrate requires adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the main source of energy for cells in the gastrointestinal tract. SCFAs also support mitochondrial function, as they can bind to and activate certain enzymes, such as ATP synthase. In addition, they have antioxidant properties and can reduce oxidative damage to the cell.

Butyrate may also have anti-tumor effects in the intestine by inhibiting histone deacetylase, which is an important cell cycle control mechanism. However, some tumors use glucose instead of butyrate as fuel for cellular metabolism, which is called the Warburg effect.

In one study, researchers gave 13 patients with Crohn’s disease 4 grams of butyrate a day for 8 weeks. During this period, patients experienced improvements in their symptoms, including less pain during defecation and decreased diarrhea. In addition, the treatment resulted in a decrease in inflammation in the colon.

Despite its role in cellular metabolic processes, butyric acid can also impact the immune system. It can help modulate the activity of inflammatory mediators and promote the differentiation of T-regulatory cells. It can also influence the expression of genes that are associated with cell proliferation and immunological tolerance.

Butyric acid is also a powerful antioxidant and protects against oxidative stress. It has also been shown to prevent neurodegeneration in animal models of neurological disorders. In addition, it has been shown to restore immunological tolerance in type 1 diabetic patients by promoting the development of Tregs with migratory capabilities.

READ MORE: Preparation, Properties and Uses Of Carbon Tetrachloride

It Stimulates the Growth of Colon Cells

The main source of energy for colon cells is butyric acid, which is a short-chain fatty acid that is produced by the bacteria in the gut. This fatty acid serves as a substrate for the production of ATP, which is the cell’s main fuel. The colon cells use the energy to carry out important functions, including maintaining a healthy bowel.

Butyric acid also stimulates the growth of colon cells, helping them keep their shape and increase their permeability. It has antimicrobial properties and helps the colon cells get rid of harmful microbes. This is why butyric acid is a popular ingredient in many probiotic supplements.

In addition, butyric acid is known to improve the quality of life in patients with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea. It is also a key element in the development of the saprophytic intestinal microflora and is essential for the normal functioning of intestinal epithelial cells. It has been shown to reduce the secretion of interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor a (TNF-a), and peroxidase activity in human colon cells.

Although most research on the benefits of butyric acid focuses on its effects on the GI tract, researchers are now exploring its potential role in neurological conditions such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism spectrum disorder. A group of Cornell University researchers recently reported that butyric acid could serve as an energy substrate for brain cells, similar to its role in the GI tract. The fatty acid may also be important for regulating metabolic pathways and stimulating the production of new neurons.

The benefits of butyric acid are attributed to its ability to interact with receptors in the cellular membrane, influencing gene expression and the activity of proteins that regulate inflammation and cell differentiation. For example, butyric acid has been shown to promote the growth of stem cells, a type of cell that can differentiate into different types of cells. In addition, butyric acid can help to prevent oxidative stress by decreasing the levels of reactive oxygen species in the cells. This oxidative stress is associated with the onset of inflammatory diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.

It is an Anti-Inflammatory Agent

Butyric acid is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It acts as an energy substrate and activates several proteins in the G-protein coupled receptor (GCPR) family, which is involved in many cell signaling processes. These include protein secretion, cell growth and proliferation, hormone production, and neurotransmitter release. This is why butyrate has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve the efficiency of the immune system.

Butyrate can also help the gut microbiome to grow and thrive, which may be beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome. Butyrate promotes the absorption of sodium and water, which is important for maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Butyrate is a key fuel for the bacteria in the colon and helps regulate the colon’s mucosal barrier function. It is also an important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Short-chain fatty acids, including butyric acid, are produced by bacterial fermentation of nondigestible carbohydrates such as polysaccharides (resistant starch, oligosaccharides, prebiotics, and raffinose), disaccharides (lactose and stachyose), and sugar alcohols (sorbitol and mannitol). They are also a product of the anaerobic degradation of dietary fiber. This process produces acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid, and lactic acid, as well as some volatile organic compounds [3].

READ MORE: Separation Techniques in Chemistry

A high intake of dietary fiber is associated with improved bowel health. This is partly because fiber promotes healthy bacteria and prevents intestinal infections. It also prevents inflammation and insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. It also reduces symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, including diarrhea and constipation.

Butyrate inhibits the growth of colorectal cancer cells and enhances cellular turnover. Its antioxidant properties protect the intestine from harmful chemicals and maintains healthy gut tissue. However, most of the research on butyrate’s protective effects has been conducted on animal and isolated cells, so more human studies are needed to verify these findings. In addition to its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, butyrate also stimulates the growth of intestinal epithelial cells. This is especially important in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. In one study, 13 patients with Crohn’s disease were given 4 grams of butyrate a day for 8 weeks. This was enough to alleviate their symptoms, and all had reduced inflammation levels after treatment.

It is an Agent in the Animal Feed Field

Butyric acid is an important short-chain fatty acid that is produced in the hindgut of monogastric animals and the rumen of ruminants. It promotes the growth of tissues that line the gastrointestinal tract, aids in the absorption of nutrients, and delivers energy to the colon cells. It has been shown to improve gut health and growth performance in poultry, pigs, and other animals. The animal feed industry is using butyrate as a supplement to enhance gut health and digestive function in livestock and pets.

Butyrate is also a key ingredient in the development of new types of feed. Its bactericidal properties make it an excellent choice for improving the nutritional value of meat and dairy products, as well as for other protein sources. The butyrate market is expected to grow rapidly in the future, especially in developing countries.

Adding butyrate to the diet of livestock increases intestinal health and nutrient utilization, and can also help alleviate symptoms associated with metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Butyrate also has a direct impact on gut bacteria, enhancing the normalisation of the microbiome.

The global butyric acid for animal feed market is categorized into five notable segments based on product type, animal, source, and lifecycle. Sodium butyrate was the largest segment by value and volume, followed by calcium butyrate, magnesium butyrate, and potassium butyrate. Sodium butyrate is widely used as an additive in swine feed to improve the gut microbiota and increase yield.

Butyric acid has a bactericidal effect on pathogenic bacteria by decreasing the pH of the gut and digesta. This makes the environment more suitable for beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp. and more toxic for pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. The result is an improved gut ecosystem and enhanced immune system. Butyrate is also effective in treating constipation and promoting digestion, which leads to better nutrition and growth performance. However, more research is required to confirm these claims.

The butyrate market is growing rapidly, mainly due to its high effectiveness and better performance than other feed ingredients. However, the high price of butyrate is limiting its adoption.

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