Probiotic L. plantarum may have beneficial anti-obesity effects, for mice at least

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

The new study compared the effects of FRT4 supplementation in lab mice fed a high fat diet   Image © Georgejason / Getty Images
The new study compared the effects of FRT4 supplementation in lab mice fed a high fat diet Image © Georgejason / Getty Images

Related tags Weight management Probiotics microbiome Gut health

Daily supplementation with a specific strain of Lactobacillus plantarum may help reduce body weight and a range of other measures including blood lipid levels and liver enzymes, says a new study with mice.

Eight weeks of supplementation with Lactobacillus plantarum​ FRT4 derived from a kind of local Chinese yogurt also improved gut barrier function, pro-inflammatory biomediators, and increased microbial diversity.

The study, published in Food & Nutrition Research​, used lab mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD), and found that this dietary pattern led to increases in choline, glycerophosphocholine, phosphorylcholine, and CDP-choline. This indicated that the HFD led to dysregulation of glycerophospholipid metabolism.

“FRT4 intervention alleviated the condition by manipulating gut microbiota as a preliminary point and further affected lipid metabolism in the liver” ​wrote researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

“In addition, these data have identified glycerophosphocholine metabolites as potential novel biomarkers of HFD-induced obesity, increased the predictability of the obesity risk, and confirmed the association of known metabolites with altered gut microbes.”

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.

For our recent summary of the state of the science and market around probiotics for weight management, please click HERE​.

Study details

Building on in vitro​ data, which reportedly showed that FRT4 could reduce cholesterol levels, the Beijing-based scientists investigated the effects of the probiotic candidate on a range of measures in lab mice fed a high-fat diet. The animals were fed either a HFD or a normal diet for eight weeks, and then the HFD group was further divided into three smaller groups: No probiotic, or high and low dose FRT4 for an additional eight weeks. The FRT4 doses were 0.2 mL of 1 billion or 10 billion CFUs per mL.

Results showed that the FRT4 led to significant reduction in the HFD-induced body weight gain, liver weight, fat weight, serum cholesterol, triglyceride, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in the liver, said the researchers.

And while the HFD led to increases in choline, glycerophosphocholine, and phosphorylcholine levels, these increases were prevented in the FRT4 groups.

Gut microbiota analysis also revealed that FRT4 consumption also increased the relative abundance of Bacteroides, Parabateroides, Anaerotruncus, Alistipes, Intestinimonas, Butyicicoccus​, and Butyricimonas​.

“Through increased understanding of mechanisms involved in the interactions between the microbiota and host, we will be in a better position to treat dietary-induced obesity,” ​concluded the researchers.

Source: Food & Nutrition Research
66, doi: 10.29219/fnr.v66.7974
“Lactobacillus plantarum FRT4 alleviated obesity by modulating gut microbiota and liver metabolome in high-fat diet-induced obese mice”
Authors: H. Cai et al.

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