In Vitro Digestion and Fermentation of Microencapsulated Tributyrin for the Delivery of Butyrate

Joseph D. Donovan, Laura Bauer, George C. Fahey, Youngsoo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Butyrate possesses negative sensory qualities and is most effectively utilized in the intestine to provide energy to the colonocyte for the maintenance of intestinal health. Butyrate has also shown promise in the treatment of intestinal disorders and diseases such as short bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. To modify sensory properties, intestinal release, and butyrate production capabilities, tributyrin (TB) was microencapsulated in whey protein isolate (WPI)-based and gamma-cyclodextrin (GC)-based materials. Using an in vitro digestion and fermentation model, microcapsules containing TB were monitored for their release and production of butyrate in vitro. All samples containing TB showed limited butyrate release (<5%) during oral and gastric stages. In the small intestinal phase, all microcapsules containing TB released approximately 75% of their total butyrate with no significant differences (P > 0.05) across formulations. During the fermentation phase, GC-based microcapsules produced significantly more butyrate (P < 0.001) on a molar basis than all WPI-based microcapsules. Butyrate production increased significantly (P < 0.001) over each time interval with GC-based microcapsules having the highest during the 12 h of fermentation. The GC-based TB encapsulation systems were able to effectively deliver butyrate to the small intestine and generate butyrate in the large intestine. These microcapsules may, therefore, be beneficial for the maintenance of intestinal health and improvement of disease states across all areas of the gastrointestinal tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1491-1499
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of food science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • fermentation
  • gamma-cyclodextrin
  • in vitro digestion
  • microencapsulation
  • tributyrin
  • whey protein isolate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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