The research – presented at the recent American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012 – suggests that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 could help to reduce levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in addition to lowering total cholesterol. The finding suggests that the strain may have potential benefits in the prevention of plaque build-ups that cause atherosclerosis and increase the risk of heart disease, say the researchers.
Led by Dr Mitchell Jones from McGill University, Canada, the researchers investigated whether L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 was effective in lowering LDL cholesterol after an initial pilot study suggested a positive effect.
Jones - who is also co-founder and chief science officer of Micropharma, the company that formulated the new probiotic – revealed that people taking the probiotic had LDL levels 11.6% lower than those on placebo after nine weeks. Furthermore, cholesterol esters were reduced by 6.3% and cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8% compared with the placebo group, he said.
He added that the research shows, for the first time, that a probiotic formulation can reduce cholesterol esters “and in particular reduce the cholesterol esters associated with ‘bad’ saturated fatty acids in the blood.”
The research study was funded by Micropharma, who also own intellectual property rights for the formulation.
The team tracked cholesterol levels in 127 adult patients with high cholesterol, with around half receiving the probiotic supplement, while the rest were given a placebo.
The team noted that the probiotic worked at doses of just 200 milligrams a day, which is far lower than those for soluble fiber or other natural products used to reduce cholesterol.
“Most dietary cholesterol management products require consumption between 2 to 25 grams a day,” explained Jones.
However he noted that because the study only contained a small number of participants, the true impact of the probiotic – and any difference in effects between men and women or different ethnic groups – has not been fully explored.