Probiotic may boost estrogen levels, provide menopause support: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Eva-Katalin / Getty Images
© Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

Related tags Probiotics Menopause

Probiotic supplementation containing a specific Levilactobacillus brevis strain may help maintain estrogen levels in healthy peri- and postmenopausal women, compared to placebo, says a new study from the Kaneka Corporation.

A probiotic formula containing L. brevis​ KABP052 was found to maintain estrogen levels over time, while estrogen levels significantly decreased in women receiving the placebo, according to findings from an exploratory, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

Jordi Riera, Chief Business Development Manager at Kaneka Probiotics, discussed the new findings at the recent IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas in Salt Lake City, telling attendees that the study explores the effects of precision probiotics on hormone balance and menopause, making it the first product to show these effects in a clinical trial.

“The estrogen levels of subjects who took this probiotic formula were maintained within the normal range of healthy, young adult premenopausal women, according to the criteria of the clinical inspection organization,” wrote the researchers, led by Kaneka’s Dr. Shinichi Honda.

“This result supports the safety of the supplementation using the current dosage and period of intervention. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a probiotic blend has been demonstrated to maintain serum estrogens levels in peri- and postmenopausal women.”

Menopause

Menopause is a natural transition that affects 20% of the world's population at any given time. Most women undergo menopause between 45 and 55, and this is preceded by perimenopause, during which estrogen secretion from the ovaries decreases. Perimenopause can last several years.

Despite such a huge population, women looking for support with perimenopause, then menopause, and eventually postmenopausal have been a “massively underserved” by many CPG brands. According to GenM’s first Invisibility Report, 87% of mid-life women felt overlooked by brands, while 97% felt brands should cater more to the menopause.

It has been shown that the microbiome is implicated in menopause, creating opportunities to modulate the microbiome and provide support for women.

“Estrogens may also affect the composition of gut microbiota, the community of microorganisms that inhabit the gut, since the menopausal transition is associated with a loss of gut microbiota diversity,” explained Dr. Honda and his co-workers, before noting that this relationship between the gut microbiota and estrogens is bidirectional.

Specifically, estrogens can undergo changes in the liver called glucuronide conjugation, and some of this conjugated estrogen is excreted via the bile into the intestine before being excreted. Some gut bacteria can secrete beta-glucuronidase (GUS), an enzyme that converts the inactive glucuronide form of estrogen back to the active form, which is subsequently reabsorbed into the blood stream.

Study details

The Kaneka scientists screened 84 strains belonging to 16 different species and identified specific strains of Levilactobacillusbrevis​ and Lacticasebacillus rhamnosus ​with GUS activity.

Since L. brevis​ KABP052 had the highest GUS activity, the researchers selected this for use in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 111 healthy peri- and postmenopausal women. The women were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or a probiotic formulated with L. brevis​ KABP052, plus Lactiplantibacillus plantarum​ KABP051 and Pediococcus acidilactici​ KABP021 (included for their ability to inhibit pathogens) in a 2:1:1 ratio.

After 12 weeks of supplementation, the results showed that probiotic group exhibited significantly higher levels of estradiol and estrone compared to the placebo group.

On the other hand, no correlation between estrogen levels and menopausal symptoms was reported by the researchers.

“This result may be because of the inclusion of volunteers who are all healthy but exhibit a variety of menopausal symptoms,” they explained.

“Further investigations involving more participants, with focused symptoms, different intervention strategies, and different dosing regimens, may provide additional insights into the most effective, safest, and most sustainable methods for supporting women with menopause symptoms.”

Source: Journal of Medicinal Food
Published doi: 10.1089/jmf.2023.k.0320
“Supplementation with a Probiotic Formula Having β-Glucuronidase Activity Modulates Serum Estrogen Levels in Healthy Peri- and Postmenopausal Women”
Authors: S. Honda, et al.

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