Study: Multi-strain probiotic reduces low-grade inflammation

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | ChrisChrisW
Getty | ChrisChrisW

Related tags Probiotic Research science Inflammation

Supplementation with multi-strain probiotics and omega-3 stimulate anti-inflammatory activity that may reduce low-grade inflammation in the elderly and lower the risk of age-related chronic disease.

A study on elderly subjects found that treatment with two strains of B. lactis, L. paracasei​, and L. acidophilus,​ and omega-3 increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 and lowered values for inflammation (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), although the latter finding was not significant.

This supports the underlying hypothesis suggesting supplements can reduce inflammaging in older adults, according to the study authors.

They comment: “Taken together with findings from similar previous studies, our results suggest that probiotic and omega-3 dual supplementation exerts modest effects on inflammation and may therefore be interesting to pursue as a non-pharmacological treatment for low-grade inflammation in elderly in future studies.”

However, they point out that the “proof-of-concept​” study represents an initial assessment on the efficacy of dual supplementation and requires a larger trial to support indications.

Dual potential

Chronic low-grade inflammation, or inflammaging​, is endemic in the elderly and increases the risk of infections, cardiovascular disease, and impaired physiological and physical function.

The anti-inflammatory and immune modulating properties of probiotics and omega-3 are well documented, particularly in relation to gut health and in the treatment of cognitive disease (probiotics) and physical performance (omega-3), but there are no studies on the effects of dual supplementation and their potential impact on age-related low-grade inflammation.

The authors of the current study further speculate that combined treatments may provide additional synergistic health benefits.

“We hypothesized that the novel combination of a multi-strain probiotic enriched with omega-3 will decrease low-grade systemic inflammation in elderly participants, and, in turn, have beneficial effects on intestinal permeability and physical function​.”

Study protocol

The eight-week random study involved 91 subjects and explored the effects of a multi-strain probiotic and omega-3 (with vitamin D) on low-grade inflammation in the elderly versus a placebo.

Subjects were aged 65-80 years-old and presented with a ‘normal’ BMI range, defined as 18.5-27 kg/m2​. Inclusion criteria also included a blood hs-CRP of 1.5-6mg/L.

The omega-3 dietary supplement comprised 1100 mg fish oils (640 mg n-3 PUFA, of which 300 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 220 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) and 200 IU of vitamin D. The four-strain probiotic contained equal amounts of two strains of Bifidobacterium lactis​ (Bi-07 and BI-04) and two of Lactobacillus​ (L. acidophilus​ NCFM and L. paracasei​ Lpc-37). Supplements were in capsule form and supplied by Pfizer.

Maltodextrin was used for the probiotic placebo and sunflower oil for the omega-3 placebo. Dosage was two capsules per day, consumed with or without food, and around the same time each day. Subjects were instructed to maintain their typical diet throughout the intervention.

Modest findings

Anti-inflammatory activity was determined through lower values of hs-CRP inflammatory markers in the intervention group at eight weeks together with significantly higher levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, compared to the placebo.

There was no difference in gastrointestinal permeability between the groups although valeric short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) (involved in favourable immune regulation) significantly increased in the treatment group. Supplementation had no effect on mobility measures.

The study authors comment that although findings are “quite modest”, ​they nonetheless demonstrate anti-inflammatory activity of probiotic omega-3 supplementation and limitations of probiotic strains in reducing low-grade inflammation in the elderly.

“An additional factor that may explain the failure of our intervention to reduce hs-CRP levels is the variability of hs-CRP as a marker of low-grade inflammation. The intra-individual variability of hs-CRP observed in these studies as well as the present study has implications for its utility as a marker of low-grade inflammation.

“Furthermore, a higher dose of omega-3 may also be necessary to see positive effects,”​ they add.

Source: Nutrients

Published online September 27, 2022:

‘Potential Modulation of Inflammation by Probiotic and Omega-3 Supplementation in Elderly with Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation—A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial’

Authors: Lina Tingö, Ashley N. Hutchinson, Cecilia Bergh, Lena Stiefvatter, Anna Schweinlin, Morten G. Jensen, Kirsten Krüger, Stephan C. Bischoff and Robert J. Brummer

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