UMMS Affiliation

Psychotic Disorders Program, UMass Memorial Medical Center; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Background: Butyric acid, a major short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), has an important role in the microbiota-gut-brain axis and brain function. This study investigated the role of butyric acid in treatment response in drug-naive first episode schizophrenia.

Methods: The study recruited 56 Chinese Han schizophrenia inpatients with normal body weight and 35 healthy controls. Serum levels of butyric acid were measured using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) analysis at baseline (for all participants) and 24 weeks after risperidone treatment (for patients). Clinical symptoms were measured using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) for patients at both time points.

Results: At baseline, there was no significant difference in serum levels of butyric acid between patients and healthy controls (p = 0.206). However, there was a significant increase in serum levels of butyric acid in schizophrenia patients after 24-week risperidone treatment (p = 0.030). The PANSS total and subscale scores were decreased significantly after 24-week risperidone treatment (p's < 0.001). There were positive associations between baseline serum levels of butyric acid and the reduction ratio of the PANSS total and subscale scores after controlling for age, sex, education, and duration of illness (p's < 0.05). Further, there was a positive association between the increase in serum levels of butyric acid and the reduction of the PANSS positive symptoms subscale scores (r = 0.38, p = 0.019) after controlling for potential confounding factors.

Conclusions: Increased serum levels of butyric acid might be associated with a favorable treatment response in drug-naive, first episode schizophrenia. The clinical implications of our findings were discussed.


GC-MS, butyric acid, risperidone, schizophrenia, treatment response

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Copyright © 2021 Li, Fan, Yuan, Pang, Hu, Wang, Huang and Song. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version



Li X, Fan X, Yuan X, Pang L, Hu S, Wang Y, Huang X, Song X. The Role of Butyric Acid in Treatment Response in Drug-Naïve First Episode Schizophrenia. Front Psychiatry. 2021 Aug 23;12:724664. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.724664. PMID: 34497548; PMCID: PMC8421030. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in psychiatry

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.