Volatile Fatty Acid (VFA) Analysis Service

What are Volatile Fatty Acids?

Volatile fatty acids (VFAs) are short-chain carboxylic acids consisting of 1-6 carbon atoms. Common VFAs include acetic acid (C2), propionic acid (C3), butyric acid (C4), valeric acid (C5), and caproic acid (C6). They are primarily produced by the fermentation of dietary fibers by gut microbiota and are metabolic byproducts in various organisms.

VFAs are biologically significant as they serve as vital energy sources, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. They play essential roles in modulating host-microbiota interactions, influencing metabolic processes, and regulating gene expression. Analytical techniques can easily detect and quantify VFAs due to their volatile nature, providing valuable insights into their functional roles and implications.

Applications of Volatile Fatty Acid Analysis

Gut Microbiota Studies: VFAs are major fermentation products generated by gut microbiota during the breakdown of complex carbohydrates. Analyzing VFAs provides crucial information about gut microbial activity, which is linked to various health conditions, including obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, and metabolic disorders.

Rumen Fermentation Analysis: In ruminant animals, VFAs play a pivotal role in rumen fermentation, which is essential for their digestion and overall health. Studying the VFA profile helps researchers understand the efficiency of rumen fermentation and develop strategies to optimize feed utilization and animal productivity.

Environmental Monitoring: VFAs are produced in anaerobic environments during the degradation of organic matter. Analyzing VFAs can provide insights into the microbial activity, organic matter decomposition, and overall health of ecosystems, making it a valuable tool in environmental monitoring and assessment.

Microbial Fuel Cell Development: VFAs are key intermediates in microbial fuel cells, where bacteria convert organic matter into electrical energy. Analyzing VFAs helps in understanding the metabolic activity of the microorganisms involved, leading to advancements in bioenergy production.

The effect of volatile fatty acids on the growth and lipid properties of two microalgae strains during batch heterotrophic cultivationThe effect of volatile fatty acids on the growth and lipid properties of two microalgae strains during batch heterotrophic cultivation (Su et al., 2021)

Content of Volatile Fatty Acid Lipidomics Analysis

To gain a comprehensive understanding of volatile fatty acids (VFAs), lipidomics approaches are utilized to analyze the composition, metabolism, and dynamics of lipids within biological systems. Lipidomics analysis provides detailed insights into the intricate roles played by VFAs in cellular processes. The key components of volatile fatty acid lipidomics analysis include extraction and sample preparation, lipid profiling, quantification, and data analysis.

Extraction and Sample Preparation: In volatile fatty acid lipidomics analysis, various sample types such as feces, plasma, urine, or tissue are collected and subjected to specific lipid extraction procedures. These procedures involve the utilization of appropriate solvents and extraction techniques to isolate the lipid fraction containing VFAs. Proper sample preparation ensures the efficient extraction of VFAs and other lipid components of interest.

Lipid Profiling: By employing GC-MS, GC-FID, and LC-MS techniques, you can obtain comprehensive lipid profiles, including VFAs, in biological samples. These techniques enable the separation, identification, and quantification of VFAs and other lipid molecules, providing valuable insights into lipid composition and dynamics within biological systems.

Quantification and Data Analysis: Accurate measurement of VFAs is critical for understanding their amounts and fluctuations within biological systems. VFA concentrations are determined using quantitative methods such as internal standards or calibration curves. Advanced data processing approaches, such as statistical analysis and bioinformatics tools, are used to evaluate complicated lipidomics datasets and extract valuable information. These studies shed light on the role of VFAs in cellular processes, metabolic pathways, and their potential consequences for health and illness.

Analytical Platforms and Instrumentation for VFA Analysis

Accurate and reliable analysis of VFAs necessitates state-of-the-art analytical platforms and instrumentation. Creative Proteomics utilizes cutting-edge technology to perform volatile fatty acid analysis, ensuring the highest standards of quality and precision.

  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS): Gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry is a widely utilized technique for the separation, identification, and quantification of VFAs. The volatile nature of VFAs makes them amenable to GC analysis, and the coupling with MS enables precise identification and quantification. Our GC-MS instrument models include the Agilent 7890B GC coupled with the Agilent 5977A Mass Selective Detector and the Thermo Scientific TRACE 1310 GC coupled with the Thermo Scientific ISQ LT Single Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer.
  • Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detection (GC-FID): GC-FID is another commonly used technique for VFA analysis. It offers high sensitivity, wide linear range, and excellent reproducibility. In GC-FID, the VFAs are separated by gas chromatography and detected by a flame ionization detector. The detector generates ions proportional to the concentration of VFAs, which are measured to quantify the analytes. Our GC-FID instrument models include the Agilent 7890B GC with Flame Ionization Detector and the Shimadzu GC-2014 with Flame Ionization Detector.
  • Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS): Liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry techniques offers enhanced sensitivity and selectivity for VFA analysis. Different chromatographic modes, such as reversed-phase or ion-exchange chromatography, can be employed. Our LC-MS instrument models include the Agilent 1290 Infinity II UHPLC system coupled with the Agilent 6470 Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer and the Thermo Scientific Vanquish UHPLC system coupled with the Thermo Scientific Q Exactive Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer.

If you have any questions about our volatile fatty acids analysis service, please contact us.


  1. Su, Kunyang, et al. "The effect of volatile fatty acids on the growth and lipid properties of two microalgae strains during batch heterotrophic cultivation." Chemosphere 283 (2021): 131204.
* Our services can only be used for research purposes and Not for clinical use.


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