SCFA VS MCT – Why pick one when you can have both?
This article discusses the functional differences between SCFA and MCT.
Firstly, there is a molecular difference between the two.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) as its name suggests, is a fatty acid with less than 6 carbons. These mainly includes acetic acid (C2), propionic acid (C3) and butyric acid (C4). On the other hand, medium chain triglyceride, is a triglyceride with medium chain fatty acid(s) attached. Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) have 6-12 carbons and these mainly includes caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12).
Secondly, there is a difference in types of pathogens these two are effective against.
SCFAs (mainly butyric acid) are evidently effective in inhibiting gram-negative bacteria (G-) and propionic acid can target fungi. On the other hand, MCTs have obvious inhibitory effects on gram-positive bacteria (G+), enveloped virus and fungi.
Thirdly, the sites of action are different.
Figure 1: Absorption Pathway of SCFAs by Enterocytes
SCFA (mainly butyric acid) can absorbed by enterocytes by monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT-1) and sodium-coupled monocarboxylate transporter 1 (SMCT-1) and used mainly used to fuel cell proliferation and repair. SCFAs are also absorbed from the intestinal lumen by an exchange with Cl- and/or HCO3-. It should be noted that butyric acid supplies about 70% of energy required colonocytes.
MCTs undergo a simpler degradation (compared to long chain fatty acids) to fatty acid and glycerol with the help of lipase and is absorbed via the portal circulation and transported to the liver where they are metabolized by the hepatocytes. MCFAs are known to be more efficiently utilized as a source of energy compared to LCFAs. Since MCFA can enter the mitochondria without using the carnitine transport system, this makes it a more efficient source of energy compared to LCFAs. Therefore, MCFAs can effectively provide fast energy to weaned piglets, new-born chicks and reduce stress during transport. Also, providing MCT as an energy source can effectively reduce labour time of sows for up to 30mins.
MCTs also allows for nutrient repartition. MCT facilitates oxidation of LCFAs in the mitochondria instead of metabolizing amino acids for energy. This allows for increased amino acids available for protein deposition in the animal. Studies have also shown that MCT can stimulate insulin secretion, increasing glucose content and preventing bone and muscle from being metabolized. It also increases calcium, magnesium and amino acid absorption, promoting protein synthesis and deposition. Furthermore, since MCFA is readily metabolized and poorly stored in the subcutaneous fat tissue, it results in reduced fat accumulation in the subcutaneous depot. All these effects combined explains how MCT improves FCR and produces carcasses with higher commercial value.
When used in combination, is there anything I should be aware of?
Although there are many benefits of using SCFA and MCT, in practical applications, it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the proportion of medium- and short-chain fatty acids and the forms they are delivered in. Manuka Biotech’s BTR MCT-S and BTR MCT-L is prepared with careful consideration of the various factors in practical application. Please contact us for more information.
By Kayla Wong, Technical Specialist, Manuka Biotech