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Poor gut barrier function may contribute to carotid atherosclerosis – a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the brain – according to a new study. People with carotid atherosclerosis demonstrated increased markers of gut barrier damage and inflammation, both of which impair butyric acid uptake into the blood.

Researchers conducted a study involving 43 people with carotid atherosclerosis and 44 healthy people. They measured butyric acid levels in the participants' blood and feces and assessed their gut health and inflammation.

The people who had carotid atherosclerosis had higher levels of butyric acid in their feces but not in their blood, despite robust gut microbial production of butyric acid. They also had higher levels of markers that indicate gut barrier damage and inflammation and tended to be heavier, carry more weight around their waist, have poor blood glucose control, and have higher markers of inflammation.

The researchers hypothesized that the participants' higher fecal (but not blood) levels of butyric acid were due to poor gut barrier function, which could impair butyric acid absorption and in turn reduce its uptake into the blood. Other research has found that high fecal levels of butyric acid are associated with intestinal permeability, obesity, metabolic dysfunction, and high blood pressure.

Butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid, is best known for its roles in maintaining gut barrier function and preventing intestinal permeability. However, butyric acid also protects the vascular endothelium – the lining of the blood vessels. Having low butyric acid levels in the blood could contribute to the risk of developing carotid atherosclerosis.

[Learn about butyrate, a compound related to butyric acid, in our overview article.] (https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/butyrate)

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