Momentum is building for probiotics for weight management


The global weight management supplements market was valued at nearly $5.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.0% by 2026 (Euromonitor International). The category is traditionally dominated by ingredients that may promote satiety or increase metabolic rates (thermogenesis)

However, a link between 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 obese people lost weight, their microflora returned to that seen in a lean person. This suggests that obesity has a microbial component (Nature​, Vol. 444, p. 1022-1023, 1027-1031​).

A 2013 article in Science(Vol. 341, Issue 6150), also led by Professor Gordon, found that transplanting gut bacteria from obese humans into germ-free mice resulted in greater weight gain and fat accumulation than mice given bacteria from the intestines of lean humans.

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

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

Animal data

There are many examples of probiotic strains with potential weight management effectiveness that are supported by data from animal studies.

For example, Korean researchers have reported that a combination of Limosilactobacillus fermentumMG4231 and MG4244 can reduce weight gain in laboratory mice consuming a high-fat (Western) diet by almost 30%. Data published in Beneficial microbes (do: 10.3920/BM2020.0205​) also indicated that the strains were associated with lower levels of fat in the liver and adipose tissue.

Also from Korea, scientists from Duksung Women’s University and Mediogen Co., Ltd. reported that mice were fed a high-fat diet supplemented with Cibaria WeissellaMG5285 for eight weeks showed significant improvements in a range of health measures, including benefits for body weight and liver health. (food and nutrition research, To do : 10.29219/fnr.v65.8087​).

Recently, a Chinese study reported that the potential anti-obesity effects of Bifidobacterium animalis​ ssp. lactisBB-12 (Chr. Hansen) can occur through two distinct pathways: Adding BB-12 to a high-fat diet prevented the transition from a healthy to an obese microbiome. Next. BB-12 promoted the growth of beneficial bacteria and decreased the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines of laboratory animals (Nutrition Frontiers​, do: 10.3389/fnut.2021.811619​).

Translating animal data to humans

Although the data from animal studies for some strains is compelling, it is still important to test such efficacy in well-designed human studies.

An interesting study by scientists at APC Microbiome Ireland showed that the benefits of certain strains do not translate directly from lab animals to humans. write in EBioMedicine​, scientists have reported that the effects of Bifidobacterium long​ APC1472 is only partially translated for men and women.

Data showed that the strain can improve blood sugar levels in healthy overweight/obese adults but, unlike animal data, no significant impact was observed for body mass index (BMI) or height ratio /hip (P/H).

Human data

There may be only partial translation of benefits for some strains, but others produce notable benefits for weight management in humans.

For example, WMDs Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies. lactis The BPL1 (CECT 8145) strain is supported by data from a three-month, randomized, parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The trial, published in the International Journal of Obesity​, found that supplementation with live or heat-killed (postbiotic) BPL1 caused significant reductions in waist circumference (-1.75 cm in the live and -1.84 cm heat-killed groups) and that the live bacteria produced statistically significant reductions in BMI compared to both its baseline levels and the placebo group.

The live (probiotic) form of BPL1 is used in Culturelle’s Metabolism + Weight Management product launched in the United States and Canada last year.

The Japanese company Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd also offers a weight management strain: Bifidobacterium breve​ B-3. Data from a 12-week clinical trial with pre-obese adults revealed that the strain can reduce body fat mass and body fat percentage by 0.6 kg and 0.7%, respectively (Bioscience of Microbiota, Food and Health,doi: 10.12938/bmfh.18-001​).

IFF Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis 420 (Howaru Shape) in combination with Litesse Ultra prebiotic fiber has been reported to reduce body fat by 4.5%, trunk fat by 6.7% and waist circumference by one inch (2.6 cm), compared to placebo (EBioMedicine​, do: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.036​).

Healthy weight management is also an area of ​​great interest to Chr. Hansen. In addition to the potential benefits of BB-12, data from human clinical studies show that the company Lactobacillus gasseriThe BNR17 strain may help maintain a healthy weight, healthy body mass index, and support healthy levels of abdominal fat (Jung et al. Korean J Fam Med2013, Kim et al. J-Med Food2018​).

It should also be noted that the Austrian start-up Slimbiotics is exploring the potential of a combination of Lactobacillus strains isolated from the origin of the African fermented food Kimere. The company’s strain combination includes Lactobacillus plantarum​ K4-Lb6, L. fermentum​ K2-Lb6, L. fermentum​ K7-Lb1, L. fermentum​ K8-Lb1, L. fermentum​ K1-Lb1, and L. fermentum​ K11-Lb3

Next Generation Solutions

Go beyond the workbench Lactobacillusand Bifidobacteriumspecies and strains, a number of academic and corporate groups are looking for next-generation strains and digging into strains already present in the gut that are linked to obesity. Importantly, most of these bacteria have never been cultured.

A team of researchers from the Catholic University of Louvain has isolated a new bacterium from the human intestine called Dysosmobacter welbionis​ J115J​. The strain is found in up to 70% of the healthy population, and lower abundance correlates with higher BMI, lower fasting glucose levels, and higher HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin, a marker of long-term presence of excess blood glucose) in obese people.

The team, led by Professor Patrice Cani, first reported the discovery of D.welbionis​ J115J​ in 2020 in an article from International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology​, followed by an article in the journal Intestine​ in 2021 who found that the daily administration of live D.welbionis ​J115Jcould attenuate high-fat diet-induced metabolic disorders in laboratory mice. The strain appears to act on both white and brown adipose tissue metabolism.


Another new variety that is attracting attention is Hafnia alvei​ HA4597, a strain explored and developed commercially by the French start-up TargEDys SA.

As we announced last year, H. alvei HA4597 may promote satiety by producing the protein caseinolytic protease B (ClpB), which has been reported to mimic appetite-reducing alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH).

These effects were supported by results from a 12-week supplementation trial in overweight adults, with the probiotic significantly increasing the proportion of overweight subjects losing at least 3% and even 4% of their baseline body weight. while following a low calorie diet for 12 weeks. . Such levels of weight loss have been described as clinically relevant by researchers.

Probiota, Copenhagen, March 28-30

The subject of probiotics for weight management is the theme of the opening session of the upcoming Probiota event in Copenhagen. The session will include presentations by Professor Patrice Cani, Catholic University of Louvain, and Professor Pierre Déchelotte, University Hospital of Rouen in Normandy and founder, shareholder and consultant of TargEDys.

For more information and to register, click HERE​.

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