Plain language summary
Probiotics have been shown to reduce total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C – often called ‘bad’ cholesterol) in people with moderately raised cholesterol levels. A specific strain of probiotic called Bifidobacterium longum BB536, may decrease TC and LDL-C by reducing the reabsorption of cholesterol from the intestine, and, combined with other natural supplements, may be useful to manage high cholesterol in people at low risk of heart disease. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of a nutraceutical (Lactoflorene Colesterolo®), containing Bifidobacterium longum BB536 (1bn CFUs) combined with red yeast rice (RYR) extract (10 mg/day monacolin K), niacin (16mg) and coenzyme Q10 (20mg) on levels of cholesterol and fats in the blood. This was a 12-week randomised, parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, in which 33 adults at low risk of heart disease were given either the Bifidobacterium combination, or a placebo. Treatment with the Bifidobacterium combination significantly reduced total cholesterol by 16.7%, LDL-C by 25.7%, non-HDL-C by 24% and apolipoprotein-B by 17%. Triglycerides, HDL-C, apolipoprotein AI, lipoprotein (a) and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) were unchanged. Markers of cholesterol synthesis and absorption suggested that a reduction in the synthesis of cholesterol had occurred without increased absorption of cholesterol. No adverse effects were reported in the study and the compliance rate was high at 97%. The use of nutraceuticals in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, as well as in other areas related to chronic diseases like cancer, is currently expanding.
BACKGROUND Probiotics incorporated into dairy products have been shown to reduce total (TC) and LDL cholesterolemia (LDL-C) in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia. More specifically, probiotics with high biliary salt hydrolase activity, e.g. Bifidobacterium longum BB536, may decrease TC and LDL-C by lowering intestinal cholesterol reabsorption and, combined with other nutraceuticals, may be useful to manage hypercholesterolemia in subjects with low cardiovascular (CV) risk. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a nutraceutical combination containing Bifidobacterium longum BB536, red yeast rice (RYR) extract (10 mg/day monacolin K), niacin, coenzyme Q10 (Lactoflorene Colesterolo®). The end-points were changes of lipid CV risk markers (LDL-C, TC, non-HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides (TG), apolipoprotein B (ApoB), HDL-C, apolipoprotein AI (ApoAI), lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a), proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9)), and of markers of cholesterol synthesis/absorption. METHODS A 12-week randomized, parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Thirty-three subjects (18-70 years) in primary CV prevention and low CV risk (SCORE 0-1% in 24 and 2-4% in 9 subjects; LDL-C: 130-200 mg/dL) were randomly allocated to either nutraceutical (N = 16) or placebo (N = 17). RESULTS Twelve-week treatment with the nutraceutical combination, compared to placebo, significantly reduced TC (- 16.7%), LDL-C (- 25.7%), non-HDL-C (- 24%) (all p < 0.0001), apoB (- 17%, p = 0.003). TG, HDL-C, apoAI, Lp(a), PCSK9 were unchanged. Lathosterol:TC ratio was significantly reduced by the nutraceutical combination, while campesterol:TC ratio and sitosterol:TC ratio did not change, suggesting reduction of synthesis without increased absorption of cholesterol. No adverse effects and a 97% compliance were observed. CONCLUSIONS A 12-week treatment with a nutraceutical combination containing the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 and RYR extract significantly improved the atherogenic lipid profile and was well tolerated by low CV risk subjects. TRIAL REGISTRATION NCT02689934 .