Background: The short-chain fatty acids formed in the human colon by the bacterial fermentation of fiber may have an antiinflammatory effect, may reduce insulin production, and may improve lipid metabolism. We previously showed in hypercholesterolemic patients that supplementation with the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum 299v significantly lowers concentrations of LDL cholesterol and fibrinogen.
Objective: We determined the influence of a functional food product containing L. plantarum 299v on lipid profiles, inflammatory markers, and monocyte function in heavy smokers.
Design: Thirty-six healthy volunteers (18 women and 18 men) aged 35-45 y participated in a controlled, randomized, double-blind trial. The experimental group drank 400 mL/d of a rose-hip drink containing L. plantarum 299v (5 x 10(7) colony-forming units/mL); the control group consumed the same volume of product without bacteria. The experiment lasted 6 wk and entailed no changes in lifestyle.
Results: Significant decreases in systolic blood pressure (P < 0.000), leptin (P < 0.000), and fibrinogen (P < 0.001) were recorded in the experimental group. No such changes were observed in the control group. Decreases in F(2)-isoprostanes (37%) and interleukin 6 (42%) were also noted in the experimental group in comparison with baseline. Monocytes isolated from subjects treated with L. plantarum showed significantly reduced adhesion (P < 0.001) to native and stimulated human umbilical vein endothelial cells.
Conclusion: L. plantarum administration leads to a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors and could be useful as a protective agent in the primary prevention of atherosclerosis in smokers.