Gut-brain axis: LPHEAL9 probiotic show cognitive benefits during ‘inflammaging’

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Daisy-Daisy / Getty Images
© Daisy-Daisy / Getty Images

Related tags inflammaging Probiotics gut-brain axis

Supplementation with Probi’s LpHEAL9 probiotic strain may modestly reduce markers of inflammation in older adults while also conferring cognitive benefits, says a new study from Sweden.

Scientists from Probi and Lund University report that four weeks of supplementation with the Lactiplantibacillus plantarum​ HEAL9 strain led to significant decreases in fecal calprotectin, a marker of intestinal inflammation, in older adults with chronic low-grade inflammation.

“Additionally, the LpHEAL9 probiotic strain has shown promising trends toward reducing CRP and TNF-alpha levels and improving cognitive function, underscoring its potential to support healthy aging by modulating inflammation,” wrote the scientists in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins.

Microbiota-gut-brain axis

The study deepens our understanding of LpHEAL9 in the context of the ‘microbiota-gut-brain axis,’ a bidirectional interaction between the GI tract and the nervous system and implicates the ability of specific strains to produce key neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin and dopamine.

Indeed, the new clinical study is the fourth performed on LpHEAL9, said Probi.

The study’s findings were welcomed by Anita Johansen, CEO Probi AB, who said that this fourth clinical trial for the company’s HEAL9 strain shows how Probi is cementing its status as pioneers within the gut-brain area for probiotics.

“The new data obtained in older adults follows a previous study, published in 2023​, in which the HEAL9 strain was shown to support and improve cognitive performance, as well as memory, mood and sleep in adults at the age of 21-52 years,” said Johansen.

“Supporting cognitive functions and healthy aging is relevant for everyone who wants to live healthier lives for a longer time, and we are confident that our Probi Sensia concept is relevant for many age groups seeking to lay the foundation for better health later in life.”

Study details

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included 66 older adults (at least 70 years of age) with chronic low-grade inflammation who were randomly assigned to one three groups: One group received placebo, one group received LpHEAL9 (10 billion CFUs), and one group received the probiotic (10 billion CFUs) plus freeze-dried blackcurrants and blackberries (6 grams).

Chronic low-grade systemic inflammation is a recognized characteristic of inflammaging, a term used to describe chronic inflammation that accompanies aging.

After four weeks of intervention, the results showed that the fecal calprotectin levels decreased significantly in LpHEAL9 group but not the probiotic plus berry group, compared to placebo.

“In the context of chronic inflammation, elevated fecal calprotectin level can reflect both neutrophil migration through an inflamed gut wall and upregulated expression of the calprotectin by intestinal epithelial cells in response to inflammatory stimuli,” explained the researchers.

While not achieving statistical significance, LpHEAL9 was associated with reductions in serum CRP and TNF-alpha. Again, there no anti-inflammatory benefits observed in the probiotic plus berries group.

Cognitive tests revealed that the probiotic with or without the berries improved cognitive function, but these results did not reach statistical significance. The lack of statistical significance may be due to the relatively small size of the study, said the researchers.

“There is a growing interest in exploring the gut-brain axis as a means to understand how altering the gut microbiota can impact neurological function,” they added. “This interest is driven by the potential of using gut microbiota modulation as a non-pharmacological strategy to combat cognitive decline that often accompanies aging.”

Source: Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s12602-024-10310-7
“Probiotic-Reduced Inflammaging in Older Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial”
Authors: I. Lazou-Ahrén, M. Björklund, G. Molin, et al.             

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