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Consuming probiotics for a month helps diminish fat accumulation in the liver, new study says

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Press Release: Eurekalert, July 18, 2014. Spanish scientists have demonstrated through an experiment on obese rats that the consumption of probiotics for thirty days helps diminish the accumulation of fat in the liver. This new finding, recently published by the journal PLOS ONE, is a step forward on the fight against Non-Alcolohic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), which is closely related to obesity and diabetes.

Researchers from the ‘Nutrition Biochemistry: Theurapetic Applications’ group (CTS-461) and the José Mataix Institute for Nutrition and Food Technology at the University of Granada have demonstrated that the administration of three probiotic strains diminishes the accumulation of fat in the liver of obese rats.

The accumulation of fat in the liver is called steatosis and it constitutes the first stage in the NAFLD disease, which is closely related to obesity and diabetes.

Given that the prevalence of these two pathologies, NAFLD has also become a health problem that affects millions of people throughout the world.

Living or dead microorganisms

Probiotics are microorganisms (bacteria or yeasts) with healthy effects upon individuals that consume them in adequate doses. They were traditionally considered to be living microorganisms, but the concept was widened since some dead microorganisms, or even their components, can display probiotic properties.

University of Granada researchers worked with three strains from the Collection Nationale de Cultures de Microorganismes (CNCM) of the Pasteur Institute:

Lactobacillus paracasei CNCM I-4034, Bifidobacterium breve CNCM I-4035 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-4036. During their first experiment, conducted on healthy volunteers, researchers demonstrated that all three of them are tolerable and safe for human consumption.
In this current study, the strains were administered during thirty days in the diet of Zucker rats. These rats develop obesity due to a mutation in the gene that codifies the receptor or leptin, a homone that transmits a sensation of satiety to the organism. Zucker rats are among the best characterized genetic models.

In their article, the authors describe that the administration of probiotics led to an accumulation of lipids (most of them triacylglycerides) in the liver which was significantly lower than that occurring in rats fed with a placebo.

“This new finding went hand in hand with lower values in proinflamatory molecules (tumor-a necrosis factor, interleukin 6 and liposacarid) in the serum of rats fed with probiotics.

According to these researchers, this liver disease will not be cured with probiotics, but these microorganisms can certainly be used as support therapy in joint use with other treatments.

This study has been financed by the private company HERO SPAIN S.A.

Journal Reference: Julio Plaza-Diaz, Carolina Gomez-Llorente, Francisco Abadia-Molina, Maria Jose Saez-Lara, Laura Campaña-Martin, Sergio Muñoz-Quezada, Fernando Romero, Angel Gil, Luis Fontana. Effects of Lactobacillus paracasei CNCM I-4034, Bifidobacterium breve CNCM I-4035 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-4036 on Hepatic Steatosis in Zucker Rats. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (5): e98401 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0098401

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