Differential Health Effects on Inflammatory, Immunological and Stress Parameters in Professional Soccer Players and Sedentary Individuals after Consuming a Synbiotic. A Triple-Blinded, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study.

Nutrients. 2021;13(4)
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Synbiotic, a mixture of prebiotics and probiotics, is known to improve neurotransmitter interactions, immune, inflammatory, and stress responses by modulating the gut microbial composition. It is also believed that physical activity plays an important role in the modulation of immune function and stress response. The purpose of this triple-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study was to evaluate the health benefits of symbiotic intervention in fourteen sedentary students and thirteen soccer players, especially in terms of improving immunophysiological and metabolic parameters. The 300mg of symbiotic intervention contained Bifidobacterium lactis CBP-001010, Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-4036, Bifidobacterium longum ES1(109 colony-forming unit), and fructooligosaccharides (200 mg) plus 1.5 mg of zinc, 8.25 µg of selenium, 0.75 µg of vitamin, and maltodextrin. Following a one-month intervention with synbiotic formulation, soccer players showed improvements in anxiety, sleep quality and stress, a slight reduction in proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β, an exercise-induced significant increase in dopamine and a slight elevation of corticotropin-releasing hormone. For confirmation of results of this pilot study and to assess more significant effects of symbiotic intervention in athletes as well as in the general population, longer-term robust studies are required. The findings of this study can help healthcare professionals understand the extensive health benefits of synbiotic intervention and its relationship to physical activity.


The main objective of this research was to carry out an experimental study, triple-blind, on the possible immunophysiological effects of a nutritional supplement (synbiotic, Gasteel Plus®, Heel España S.A.U.), containing a mixture of probiotic strains, such as Bifidobacterium lactis CBP-001010, Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-4036, and Bifidobacterium longum ES1, as well as the prebiotic fructooligosaccharides, on both professional athletes and sedentary people. The effects on some inflammatory/immune (IL-1β, IL-10, and immunoglobulin A) and stress (epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and cortisol) biomarkers were evaluated, determined by flow cytometer and ELISA. The effects on metabolic profile and physical activity, as well as on various parameters that could affect physical and mental health, were also evaluated via the use of accelerometry and validated questionnaires. The participants were professional soccer players in the Second Division B of the Spanish League and sedentary students of the same sex and age range. Both study groups were randomly divided into two groups: a control group-administered with placebo, and an experimental group-administered with the synbiotic. Each participant was evaluated at baseline, as well as after the intervention, which lasted one month. Only in the athlete group did the synbiotic intervention clearly improve objective physical activity and sleep quality, as well as perceived general health, stress, and anxiety levels. Furthermore, the synbiotic induced an immunophysiological bioregulatory effect, depending on the basal situation of each experimental group, particularly in the systemic levels of IL-1β (increased significantly only in the sedentary group), CRH (decreased significantly only in the sedentary group), and dopamine (increased significantly only in the athlete group). There were no significant differences between groups in the levels of immunoglobulin A or in the metabolic profile as a result of the intervention. It is concluded that synbiotic nutritional supplements can improve anxiety, stress, and sleep quality, particularly in sportspeople, which appears to be linked to an improved immuno-neuroendocrine response in which IL-1β, CRH, and dopamine are clearly involved.

Lifestyle medicine

Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Synbiotics
Environmental Inputs : Nutrients ; Physical exercise ; Microorganisms
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 2
Allocation concealment : No