Daily doses of a probiotic lowered key cholesterol-bearing molecules

   Mitchell L. Jones, MD, PhD, and colleagues in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, investigated the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (NCIMB 30242), specifically whether it would lower serum LDL, as has been reported, and reduce blood levels of cholesterol esters -- molecules of cholesterol attached to fatty acids, a combination that accounts for most total blood cholesterol and has been linked to cardiovascular disease risk.

   Their study involved 127 adult patients with high cholesterol. About half the participants took L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day, while a control group was administered placebo. Those taking the probiotic had LDL levels 11.6% lower than those on placebo after nine weeks. Further, cholesterol esters were reduced by 6.3% and cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8%, compared with the placebo group.       

   The proportion of cholesteryl ester saturated fatty acids have been reported to be higher in individuals with established coronary artery disease, Dr. Jones and colleagues noted. Select probiotic bacterial strains have been shown to improve the cholesterol profile in humans; however their effect on cholesteryl esters had not previously been reported.