Heat-killed Lactobacillus strain may slash inflammation in healthy overweight people

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Lindama
© Getty Images / Lindama

Related tags heat-killed Lactobacillus Lactobacillus Inflammation cholesterol reduction

Daily supplementation with heat-killed Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 could enhance the response of immune T cells and suppress inflammation in the liver, says a new study from Japan.

Scientists from House Wellness Foods and Kyushu University report that the heat-killed strain, which is the primary ingredient of House Wellness Foods’ Immuno-LP20 product, was also found to reduce cholesterol levels in healthy overweight people.

“The novel finding of this study was that intake of HK L-137 decreased biomarkers of hepatic inflammation,” ​wrote the researchers in the European Journal of Nutrition​. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that intake of lactobacilli can reduce [liver enzymes] AST [aspartate transaminase] and ALT [alanine aminotransferase] levels in healthy human subjects.

“It has been reported that slight elevation of serum ALT, even within the normal range, can predict a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and coronary heart disease. While the reduction of AST and ALT by HK L-137 was within the normal range in this study, these reports suggest that lowering serum ALT within the normal range may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and coronary heart disease.”

Study details

The new study included 100 overweight but healthy men and women (BMI: 23 to 29.9). The participants were randomly assigned to receive either HK L-137 (10 mg) or placebo for 12 weeks.

Results showed that the heat-killed bacteria HK L-137 exerted a significant impact on immune response as gauged by multiple measurements including enhanced Th1-related immune functions, such as concanavalin A (Con A)-induced proliferation in T cell production.

The HK L-137 group also exhibited significantly larger decreases in aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase over time compared to the control group.

Total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) were also lower in the heat-killed bacteria group, compared to the control group.

In addition, the observed effects were found to be greater in the volunteers with higher C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation).

“HK L-137 improved TC and LDL-C levels in the present study, especially in the subjects with high serum CRP, an indicator of total inflammation induced by endogenous and exogenous stimuli,” ​wrote the researchers. Inflammation may be linked to higher levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) – an endotoxin – leaking from the gut in people with diminished intestinal barrier function.

“Thus, HK L-137 might decrease TC and LDL-C levels by improving the intestinal epithelial barrier function and inhibiting the translocation of endotoxin.”

The researchers concluded: “It is possible that HK L-137 may be useful for prevention/treatment of metabolic dysfunction in persons at risk of inflammation.”

Source: European Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s00394-019-02112-3
“Daily intake of heat-killed ​Lactobacillus plantarum L-137 improves inflammation and lipid metabolism in overweight healthy adults: a randomized-controlled trial”
Authors: Y. Tanaka et al.

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