Prebiotics' and probiotics' anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties useful to NAFLD patients: Iranian study

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Prebiotics and probiotics are thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. ©Getty Images
Prebiotics and probiotics are thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. ©Getty Images

Related tags Prebiotics Probiotics Iran NAFLD

Daily prebiotic and probiotic supplementation can decrease inflammation and increase antioxidant capacity in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients, according to an Iranian population study.

Inflammation and oxidative stress are closely associated with NAFLD, while prebiotics and probiotics are thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.

Based on this, researchers at Iran’s Tabriz University of Medical Sciences and Road Traffic Injury Research Centre conducted a study to assess the impact of prebiotics and / or probiotics on oxidative stress and inflammatory markets in NAFLD patients.

Supplementation for oxidation and inflammation

They recruited 75 participants with NAFLD and randomised them into four groups: each participant in the first group received a probiotic capsule containing 20 million colony-forming units (CFUs) of Bifidobacterium longum ​(BL) and Lactobacillus acidophilus ​(LA) daily, while in the second group, each received prebiotics in the form of 10g of inulin daily.

Those in the third group received both the pre- and probiotic supplementation every day, and the fourth group received placebo. The supplementation period for all participants lasted three months.

The researchers measured the patients’ anthropometric, inflammatory, oxidative and anti-oxidative indices prior to and after the intervention.

They subsequently reported that compared to the placebo group, all those who had taken prebiotics and / or probiotics experienced weight loss, a decrease in BMI, smaller waist and hip circumferences, reduced tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and increased serum levels of total antioxidant capacity.

Among the three intervention groups, no significant differences in the aforementioned parameters were observed, though the co-administration of both prebiotics and probiotics led to a marked reduction in high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), compared to all the other groups.

In addition, no significant differences were found across the groups when it came to the oxidative stress marker malondialdehyde (MDA) and inflammation marker interleukin-6 (IL-6).

The researchers wrote that this was one of the few studies to assess the effects of both prebiotics and probiotics — alone and in combination with each other — in NAFLD patients, and that “some aspects of our study, e.g. probiotics’, prebiotics’, and their co-administration’s effects on oxidative / anti-oxidative status in NAFLD patients, to the best of our knowledge, are novel”​.

Observations for future consideration

However, they did not use a liver biopsy to determine the severity of the patients’ NAFLD, but used a non-invasive method (ultrasound imaging of the liver and bile ducts) instead, which might have affected the measurements of the interventions.

In addition, they did not evaluate intestinal bacteria and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), and the follow-up time was short.

These observations led them to note that “further clinical investigations with large sample sizes and long-term follow up are needed to better clarify the effects of probiotic, prebiotic, and co-administration of pro-and prebiotics on the NAFLD patients”​.

In conclusion, they wrote: “Probiotic and / or prebiotic supplementation can be effective for the reduction of some anthropometric and inflammatory markers, and can increase the total antioxidant capacity in patients with NAFLD.

“Co-administration of pro- and prebiotics is more effective than probiotics and prebiotics alone in modifying hs-CRP in patients with NAFLD, (and) probiotics and / or prebiotics can be considered as an adjuvant therapy for NAFLD patients.”


Source: Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition

“Pro- and prebiotic effects on oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”

Authors: Leila Javadi, et al.

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