In the Journals Plus

Fat mass increased in adolescents assigned probiotic supplement

Show Citation

March 2, 2018

Hispanic adolescents assigned to 16 weeks of supplementation with a commercial probiotic formulation experienced an increase in total adiposity, total fat mass, trunk fat mass and trunk adiposity compared with those assigned to placebo, according to findings published in Pediatric Obesity.

In addition, gut microbiota, satiety hormone levels and liver fat were unchanged, researchers reported.

Michael I. Goran, PhD, professor of preventive medicine, physiology and biophysics and professor of pediatrics in the department of preventive medicine in the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues evaluated 19 Hispanic adolescents assigned to three packets per day of a probiotic supplement (VSL#3, Alfasigma; n = 9; mean age, 14.4 years; 6 girls; mean BMI, 30.7 kg/m2) or placebo (n = 11; mean age, 14.9 years; 6 girls; mean BMI, 34.5 kg/m2) for 16 weeks to determine whether the supplement alters gut microbiota, gut hormones, body composition, liver fat and fibrosis.

According to a previously published study (Uronis JM, et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2011;doi:10.1002/ibd.21366), VSL#3 is a mixture of eight strains of lactic acid-producing bacteria: Lactobacillus plantarum, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, L. casei, L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium breve, B. longum, B. infantis and Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus.

Researchers observed a significant increase in total adiposity in the supplement group compared with the placebo group during the study period independent of baseline BMI, sex or change in energy intake (probiotic, 1.7% vs. placebo, –1.3%; P < .01). Further, the supplement group compared with the placebo group experienced increased total fat mass (2.1 kg vs. –0.9 kg; P < .01), trunk fat mass (2.3 kg vs. –0.2 kg; P < .01) and trunk adiposity (3.3% vs. –1.8%; P < .01). BMI also increased in the supplement group compared with a decrease in the placebo group (0.6 kg/m2 vs. –0.07 kg/m2; P = .06).

No changes in liver fat percentage, liver fibrosis or energy intake of dietary macronutrients were observed with probiotic supplementation. Levels of leptin, GLP-1, ghrelin and peptide YY, as well as fasting glucose and insulin concentrations, were unchanged from baseline in both groups.

“Results from this study show that a 16-week probiotic supplementation with VSL#3 significantly increased total adiposity among obese Hispanic adolescents in the absence of alterations in the gut microbiota,” the researchers wrote. “Additionally, VSL#3 supplementation also did not alter liver fat, gut hormones or fasting measures of glucose or insulin among minority youth at high risk for [nonalcoholic fatty liver disease]. Additional studies are needed to determine the mechanisms by which VSL#3 supplementation may lead to increased adiposity in this population, and further research could help to guide what populations could benefit from the protective effects of probiotics against obesity.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.