Editors' ChoiceMetabolic Syndrome

Rx: An Anti-Obesity Probiotic

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Science Translational Medicine  29 Feb 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 123, pp. 123ec38
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003902

Metabolic syndrome—a cluster of risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, such as obesity, high blood sugar, abnormal serum lipid levels, and hypertension—affects nearly 35% of adults and 10% of adolescents in the United States. The rapidly increasing prevalence of obesity in today’s society is likely to lead to even higher rates of this syndrome in the near future. In response, translational investigators are searching for a therapeutic modality to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome. Probiotics—live microorganisms that provide beneficial effects to the host—represent one avenue of research.

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB)—a group of bacteria that are used to produce fermented foods, for example—are the most common probiotics. They have been linked with numerous health benefits, including the improvement of gastrointestinal disorders, modulation of the immune system, and more recently, the reduction of serum cholesterol levels. Now, Zhao et al. investigate the effects of an orally administered LAB species termed LP28, which was derived from the tropical longan fruit, on metabolic syndrome in high-fat diet–induced obese mice (strain C57BL/6Jcl, the most commonly used experimental animals in diet and obesity studies). Before the start of an 8-week experiment, obese mice were assigned to a high-fat or regular diet group. Each group was then divided into three groups, which received LP28, a different plant-derived LAB, or no LAB. Lean control mice were fed a regular diet before and during the experiment.

LP28 reduced the body weight gain of mice fed a high-fat diet by 41% compared with mice fed a high-fat diet without LAB. Liver triglyceride and cholesterol contents in the high-fat diet mice fed with LP28 were 54 and 70% less, respectively, than those of the control group without LAB. Plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels were unchanged by LAB, however. Analysis of liver tissues by means of polymerase chain reaction revealed that LP28 administration down-regulated genes encoding products that participate in lipid metabolism and biosynthesis (the CD36 receptor, stearoyl-CoA desaturase, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma).

These findings are encouraging, but until evidence-based human studies are available, lifestyle modification such as healthy diet and physical activity remains the key in prevention and reduction of the metabolic syndrome.

X. Zhao et al., The obesity and fatty liver are reduced by plant-derived Pediococcus pentosaceus LP28 in high fat diet-induced obese mice. PLoS ONE 7, e30696 (2012). [Full Text]

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