U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Development and validation of a GC-FID method for the analysis of short chain fatty acids in rat and human faeces and in fermentation fluids

Serena Scortichini, Maria Chiara Boarelli, Stefania Silvi, Dennis Fiorini
Journal of chromatography 2020 v.1143 pp. 121972
acetic acid, acidification, chemical species, derivatization, ethyl ether, feces, fermentation, flame ionization, hexanoic acid, humans, intestinal microorganisms, metabolites, mice, polyethylene glycol, propionic acid, quantitative analysis, rats
Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are gut microbiota metabolites recognized for their beneficial effects on the host organism. In this study, a simple and rapid sample preparation method combined to SCFAs analysis by direct injection and gas chromatography coupled with flame ionization detection (GC-FID), for the determination and quantification of eight SCFAs (acetic, propionic, i-butyric, butyric, i-valeric, valeric, i-caproic and caproic acids) in rat, mice and human faeces and in fermentation fluids samples, has been developed and validated. The method consists of extraction of the SCFAs by ethyl ether after acidification of the samples. The effect of the number of extractions has been assessed in order to optimize the procedure and to obtain a satisfactory yield for all the analyzed SCFAs. The increase of the extracted analytes quantity was significant passing from 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3 extractions (P < 0.05), while no significant differences were found performing 3, 4 or 5 extractions (P > 0.05). The SCFAs extracted are directly analyzed by GC-FID without derivatization and separated on a polyethylene glycol nitroterephthalic acid modified coated capillary column, with a chromatographic run time of 13 min. The proposed method showed good sensitivity, with limits of quantifications in the range 0.14–0.48 µM for SCFAs from propionic to caproic acids and 2.12 µM for acetic acid; recovery was between 80.8 and 108.8% and intraday and interday repeatability in the range 0.6–5.0% of precision (RSD, %) The optimized method is suitable for the quantitative analysis of SCFAs in real samples of rat, mouse and human faeces and in fermentation fluids, and it can be applied also to very small amount of faecal sample (20 mg).