Short-Chain Fatty Acids in the Metabolism of Heart Failure - Rethinking the Fat Stigma

Constantin L Palm, Kirsten T Nijholt, Barbara M Bakker, B Daan Westenbrink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Heart failure (HF) remains a disease with immense global health burden. During the development of HF, the myocardium and therefore cardiac metabolism undergoes specific changes, with decreased long-chain fatty acid oxidation and increased anaerobic glycolysis, diminishing the overall energy yield. Based on the dogma that the failing heart is oxygen-deprived and on the fact that carbohydrates are more oxygen-efficient than FA, metabolic HF drugs have so far aimed to stimulate glucose oxidation or inhibit FA oxidation. Unfortunately, these treatments have failed to provide meaningful clinical benefits. We believe it is time to rethink the concept that fat is harmful to the failing heart. In this review we discuss accumulating evidence that short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) may be an effective fuel for the failing heart. In contrast to long-chain fatty acids, SCFAs are readily taken up and oxidized by the heart and could serve as a nutraceutical treatment strategy. In addition, we discuss how SCFAs activate pathways that increase long chain fatty acid oxidation, which could help increase the overall energy availability. Another potential beneficial effect we discuss lies within the anti-inflammatory effect of SCFAs, which has shown to inhibit cardiac fibrosis - a key pathological process in the development of HF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number915102
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in cardiovascular medicine
Publication statusPublished - 11-Jul-2022

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