Metabolic syndrome (MS) is characterised by obesity, hypertension, increased plasma glucose levels, and hyperlipidaemia.
The condition has become more common over the last few years, thanks to dietary and lifestyle changes. It has also been linked to a higher incidence of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, resulting in a greater morbidity and mortality rate among MS patients.
Based on this, researchers at Jiaotong University in Shaanxi, China, reviewed studies on the role of the gut microbiota in alleviating MS.
They wrote that manipulating the gut microbiota with probiotic and prebiotic intake could aid in weight loss and lower serum lipid and plasma glucose levels, therefore reducing the incidence of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
They said: “In high-fructose fed rats, the anti-diabetic effect of probiotics was measured by feeding them probiotics containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei”, adding that probiotics could also have an antioxidant effect on type 2 diabetes patients.
The review also referred to the pro-inflammatory market IL-6 being down-regulated in individuals with inflamed intestinal tissues, thanks to probiotic intake
They wrote: “A number of probiotic strains passing through the gastrointestinal tract can also induce anti-inflammatory cytokine production.
“This probiotic strain or its synbiotic combination can be beneficial by preventing lifestyle-associated, inflammation-associated, or gut microbiome-associated metabolic disorders through the amelioration of inflammatory status and gut microbial populations.”
They added that short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), bile salt hydrolase (BSH), metabolic endotoxemia and the endocannabinoid (eCB) system are “essential in regulating the initiation and progression of MS” by regulating insulin secretion, fat accumulation, energy homeostasis, and plasma cholesterol levels.
The researchers put this down to four mechanisms: firstly, that probiotics and prebiotics could raise bacteria-devised SCFAs and as such, trigger the secretion of hormones that have metabolic and proliferative properties.
The second mechanism involves the increase of BSH activity. BSH enzymes in the gut can result in reduced weight gain, and reduce plasma cholesterol
The third mechanism entails “leveraging the anti-inflammatory function of probiotics, which improves low-grade inflammation, steatosis, glucose intolerance and insulin sensitivity”.
The fourth mechanism is the down-regulation of eCB system responsiveness, which affects the regulation of energy homeostasis and normalisation of adipogenesis.
The researchers said gut microbiota had been shown to modulate appetite, serum lipids and plasma glucose.
Furthermore, probiotics and prebiotics can encourage weight loss, lessen insulin resistance, and lower serum lipid and plasma glucose levels by reducing intestinal inflammation and enhancing gut barrier integrity.
They concluded: “Based on these current achievements, the gut microbiota may be a potential therapeutic target for MS. However, clinical trials addressing the efficacy and efficiency of current or potential treatments on therapeutic applications in metabolic syndrome are needed.”
Source: Cell & Bioscience
“Gut microbiota as a potential target of metabolic syndrome: the role of probiotics and prebiotics”
Mingqian He, Bingyin Shi