Bacterial Product, Butyrate, Seen to Delay ALS Symptoms, Increase Life Span of Mouse Models

Bacterial Product, Butyrate, Seen to Delay ALS Symptoms, Increase Life Span of Mouse Models

Feeding mouse models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) the bacterial product butyrate improved their gut health, delayed the onset of movement symptoms, and increased the animals’ life span, according to a study.

The study reporting the findings, “Target Intestinal Microbiota to Alleviate Disease Progression in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” supports previous research on how important gut health is for the brain, and it suggests that treatments to improve gut processes could be beneficial for ALS patients.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics.

Butyrate is a naturally occurring substance produced by colon bacteria. It is available over the counter as a supplement. Studies have shown that it benefits gut health in numerous ways.

“The brain and the gut are linked, so it’s not too surprising that the health of the gut can impact the functioning of neurons,” Jun Sun, PhD, associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and the study’s senior investigator, said in a press release.

Sun’s team had been studying mouse models of a type of inherited ALS caused by mutations in the SOD1 gene. During previous research, they discovered that the mice had an abnormal composition of intestinal bacteria, and they lacked cell components to stop the gut’s contents from leaking into neighboring tissue.

In an attempt to restore the animals’ intestinal health, researchers fed them butyrate from 35 days old to 42 days old.

The treatment improved the animals’ gut health, changed its bacterial composition, and reduced intestinal leakage.

Control mice became ill when they were about 110 days old, but butyrate-treated mice did not start showing symptoms until they were 150 days old. They also lived an average of 38 days longer than control mice.

There are few studies of ALS-linked changes to intestinal health, the team said, but such research could lead to new treatments.

“There is only one approved drug to treat ALS, so we need additional treatments,” Sun said. “Butyrate is a bacterial by-product, and already available over the counter as a supplement. Studies are needed to see its effects on ALS in humans, but our preliminary results in mice are very promising.”


  1. Tom says:

    What is the form of butyrate that can/should be purchased, if an ALS patient wanted to try butyrate? CVS advertises hydrocortisone butyrate, but that sounds topical. Amazon advertises sodium butyrate short chain fatty acid (600 mg), calcium-magnesium butyrate (600 mg), sodium-potassium butyrate (500 mg), and something called butyri pled (700 mg). Plus plain Butyrate 600 mg.

    Please let us know what option most resembles what worked for the researchers.

    • Magdalena Kegel says:

      Dear Tom,
      The researchers used sodium butyrate, but please note that there is so far no evidence showing that ALS patients have the same gut abnormalities as the researchers saw in the mice. There are numerous reasons why a treatment may work in mice but fail in humans.

  2. Patsy says:

    So would you NOT recommend trying a supplement with Butyrate.

    If you would, I still have the same question as Tom. What supplement that someone that wants to try this buy?

    Many thanks.

    • Magdalena Kegel says:

      Dear Patsy,

      I want to make it clear that I am not in the position of recommending anything. I am not a medical doctor, I am a writer sharing research news. The purpose of ALS News Today is to act as an information website, and none of the writers can issue advice or recommendations. We merely forward information that researchers share with the public.

      As I said earlier, there is no evidence that the treatment works in humans, and there is not even any proof that the same gut problems are found in human patients.

      If anyone wants to try supplements that are available over the counter, that is their personal decision, which I will not try to influence. I am merely providing information about what is known, and what is not known about these things.

      Regarding the specific chemical formulas of buturate available, I do not know in what way they may differ in terms of gut effects.

      Best Wishes

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