RCT supports plantarum probiotic’s anti-obesity effects

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© pepifoto / Getty Images
© pepifoto / Getty Images

Related tags: Probiotics, Weight management, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum, Weight loss

Dietary supplementation with a novel probiotic isolated from Korean fermented foods may slash body weight and reduce abdominal fat in overweight people, says a new study from Korea.

Twelve weeks of supplementation with Lactiplantibacillus plantarum​ subsp. plantarum​ LMT1-48 (formerly known as Lactobacillus plantarum​ LMT1-48) also led to improvements in body mass index and insulin resistance in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 100 overweight volunteers.

“Our data regarding the gut microbiota are largely in agreement with other studies showing that the gut microbiota play key roles in human energy metabolism and the pathogenesis of obesity,” ​wrote scientists from Seoul National University College of Medicine and Medytox in Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.

“They also support the idea that interventions to manipulate the gut microbiome with probiotics have a great therapeutic potential for alleviating obesity and obesity-related diseases.”

Gut microbiota and obesity

The link between the gut microbiota and obesity was first reported in 2006 by Jeffrey Gordon and his group at Washington University in St. Louis, who found that microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people, and that when the obese people lost weight their microflora reverted back to that observed in a lean person. This suggested that obesity has a microbial component (Nature​, Vol. 444, pp. 1022-1023, 1027-1031​).

A 2013 paper in Science​  (Vol. 341, Issue 6150), also led by Prof Gordon, found that transplanting gut bacteria from obese humans into germ-free mice leads to greater weight gain and fat accumulation than mice that were given bacteria from the guts of lean humans. 

The findings showed that weight and fat gain is influenced by communities of microbes in the gut and their effect on the physical and metabolic traits of the host, leading to metabolic changes in the rodents that are associated with obesity in humans.

This has led many research groups to explore if probiotics may help manage weight. A probiotic is defined as a “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”​ – FAO/WHO.

Study details

The new research focused on L. plantarum​ LMT1-48, which was isolated from Korean fermented foods and newborn feces. One hundred overweight people were randomly assigned to receive either 20 billion CFUs of LMT1-48 or placebo for 12 weeks.

Results showed that the probiotic group experienced significant weight loss of an average 0.9 kg over the 12 weeks, while waist circumference also decreased significantly by an average of 0.8 cm, while it increased in the placebo group.

In addition, abdominal visceral fat area significantly decreased in the probiotic group, from 129 cm2 at the start of the study to 117 cm2 after 12 weeks.

Looking at metabolic measures, the Korea-based researchers reported that serum insulin levels, the corresponding homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) of insulin resistance, and leptin levels decreased following 12 weeks of supplementation. On the other hand, these measures all increased in the placebo group.

Microbiota changes

Analysis of the microbiota in the subjects showed that LMT1-48 supplementation led to significant changes in different gut microbes, notably an increase in the prevalence of Actinobacteria​ (0.23%) and Firmicutes​ (7.2%), while the prevalence of Bacteroidetes​ significantly decreased by almost 7%.

“The ​Oscillibacter genus abundance was significantly increased after LMT1-48 administration for 12 weeks,”​ added the researchers. “This is reported to be associated with obesity and was negatively correlated with the levels of [triglycerides], [the liver enzyme alanine transaminase, ALT], and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.”

The researchers added: “The weight reducing effect of LMT1-48 appeared first at week 6 and appeared to gradually decrease over time. In addition, abdominal [visceral fat area] and [subcutaneous fat area] were also reduced significantly. Moreover, no serious adverse effects were observed in both groups during the test period.

“These findings indicate that LMT1-48 supplementation has a positive effect on reducing body weight and abdominal adiposity without safety concerns.”

Source: Diabetes & Metabolism Journal
doi: 10.4093/dmj.2021.0370
“Effect of​ Lactobacillus plantarum LMT1-48 on Body Fat in Overweight Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial”
Authors: M. Sohn et al.

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