Recent clinical studies have yielded controversial results regarding the effect of probiotics on lipid profiles. To assess the efficacy of probiotics in lowering serum lipid concentrations, we conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
Literature from the PubMed, Embase and Cochrane databases were searched and screened. The effects of probiotics on lipid profiles were assessed by mean difference (MD) and 95% confidence interval (CI). All included studies were analyzed using Review Manager 5.3 (Cochrane Collaboration, 2014).
A total of 19 RCTs, including 967 participants, met the inclusion criteria. Probiotic interventions reduced total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) compared to controls (placebo or no treatment) by -0.25mmol/L (95% CI: -0.39, -0.12) and -0.17mmol/L (95% CI: -0.25, -0.09), respectively. No significant effects of probiotics on triglyceride (TG) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels were found. The effects of probiotics on decreasing TC and LDL-C levels were greater for longer intervention times, certain probiotic strains, and in younger mildly hypercholesterolaemic subjects.
This meta-analysis revealed that the use of probiotics can significantly lower TC and LDL-C levels in hypercholesterolaemic adults, which brings hope for reducing the risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease.