Heart-Protecting Probiotics

Good Health LifestylesResearch Roundup

The Study Abstract: Lactobacillus plantarum DR7 Reduces Cholesterol via Phosphorylation of AMPK That Down-regulated the mRNA Expression of HMG-CoA Reductase.

Hypercholesterolemia is one of the primary risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. The use of lactobacilli probiotics to reduce blood cholesterol levels have been extensively reported. However, more information is needed to evaluate the possible mechanisms involved and to identify possible targets for further therapeutic development. In this study, strains of lactobacilli were screened based on the ability to assimilate cholesterol, and prevention of cholesterol accumulation in hepatic (HepG2) and intestinal (HT-29) cells. Cell free supernatant (CFS) from Lactobacillus plantarum DR7 showed a higher ability to assimilate cholesterol, reduction in cholesterol accumulation in both HepG2 and HT-29 cells, accompanied by reduced mRNA expression of HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) in HepG2 (p<0.05), compared to other lactobacilli. The reduction of HMGCR expression was also diminished in the presence of an AMPK inhibitor (Compound C), suggesting that L. plantarum DR7 exerted its effect via the AMPK pathway, typically via the phosphorylation of AMPK instead of the AMPK mRNA expression in HepG2 (p<0.05). Altogether, our present study illustrated that lactobacilli could exert cholesterol lowering properties along the AMPK pathway, specifically via phosphorylation of AMPK that led to reduced expression of HMGCR.

Source: Lew LC, Choi SB, Khoo BY, Sreenivasan S, Ong KL, Liong MT. Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2018 Apr;38(2):350-361.


While cholesterol may not be the culprit for cardiovascular conditions, and the oxidation of cholesterol and its inflammatory effects on arteries is becoming better recognized as a threat to heart health, many people still feel that their cholesterol numbers are too high.

Probiotics—the “good bacteria” found in yogurt and other fermented foods—are well-studied and almost universally known for working digestive magic. They stop symptoms of intestinal bowel disorders, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation and have generally been embraced by conventional medicine and the public alike.

However, probiotics also show an ability to lower cholesterol deposits in the liver and intestines, effectively flushing it from the body. In a sense, they act as a detoxifier of cholesterol through very specific pathways in the hepatic and digestive systems. The probiotic bacteria studied here, L. plantarum, has a strong reputation in a variety of strains for bolstering the immune system, stopping harmful bacteria, and of course, easing digestive diseases.

But yogurt may not be your best bet for probiotic protection. Another recent review stated that probiotics in capsule form may be superior to yogurt for heart-healthy effects. Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need the highest count of probiotics in your supplement, you just need effective probiotics, including L. plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum.


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