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Open Access Research article

Effects of two Lactobacillus strains on lipid metabolism and intestinal microflora in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet

Ning Xie1, Yi Cui1, Ya-Ni Yin1, Xin Zhao1, Jun-Wen Yang1, Zheng-Gen Wang2, Nian Fu3, Yong Tang4, Xue-Hong Wang1, Xiao-Wei Liu1, Chun-Lian Wang1 and Fang-Gen Lu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology, Xiangya Second Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410011, Hunan Province, PR China

2 Department of Gastroenterology, Nanhua Second Hospital, Nanhua University, Hengyang 421001, Hunan Province, China

3 Department of Gastroenterology, Nanhua Hospital, Nanhua University, Hengyang 421002, Hunan Province, China

4 State Key Laboratory of Medical Genetics, Central South University, Changsha 410011, Hunan Province, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:53  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-53

Published: 3 July 2011

Abstract

Background

The hypocholesterolemic effects of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have now become an area of great interest and controversy for many scientists. In this study, we evaluated the effects of Lactobacillus plantarum 9-41-A and Lactobacillus fermentum M1-16 on body weight, lipid metabolism and intestinal microflora of rats fed a high-cholesterol diet.

Methods

Forty rats were assigned to four groups and fed either a normal or a high-cholesterol diet. The LAB-treated groups received the high-cholesterol diet supplemented with Lactobacillus plantarum 9-41-A or Lactobacillus fermentum M1-16. The rats were sacrificed after a 6-week feeding period. Body weights, visceral organ and fat pad weights, serum and liver cholesterol and lipid levels, and fecal cholesterol and bile acid concentrations were measured. Liver lipid deposition and adipocyte size were evaluated histologically.

Results

Compared with rats fed a high-cholesterol diet but without LAB supplementation, serum total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides levels were significantly decreased in LAB-treated rats (p < 0.05), with no significant change in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Hepatic cholesterol and triglyceride levels and liver lipid deposition were significantly decreased in the LAB-treated groups (p < 0.05). Accordingly, both fecal cholesterol and bile acids levels were significantly increased after LAB administration (p < 0.05). Intestinal Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium colonies were increased while Escherichia coli colonies were decreased in the LAB-treated groups. Fecal water content was higher in the LAB-treated groups. Compared with rats fed a high-cholesterol diet, administration of Lactobacillus plantarum 9-41-A resulted in decreases in the body weight gain, liver and fat pad weight, and adipocytes size (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

This study suggests that LAB supplementation has hypocholesterolemic effects in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet. The ability to lower serum cholesterol varies among LAB strains. Our strains might be able to improve the intestinal microbial balance and potentially improve intestinal transit time. Although the mechanism is largely unknown, L. plantarum 9-41-A may play a role in fat metabolism.