The gut microbiota contributes to host energy metabolism, and altered gut microbiota has been associated with obesity-related metabolic disorders. We previously reported that a probiotic alone or together with a prebiotic controls body fat mass in healthy overweight or obese individuals in a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01978691). We now aimed to investigate whether changes in the gut microbiota may be associated with the observed clinical benefits. Faecal and plasma samples were obtained from a protocol compliant subset (n=134) of participants from a larger clinical study where participants were randomised (1:1:1:1) into four groups: (1) placebo, 12 g/d microcrystalline cellulose; (2) Litesse® Ultra™ polydextrose (LU), 12 g/day; (3) Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis 420™ (B420), 1010 cfu/d in 12 g microcrystalline cellulose; (4) LU+B420, 1010 cfu/d of B420 in 12 g/d LU for 6 months of intervention. The faecal microbiota composition and metabolites were assessed as exploratory outcomes at baseline, 2, 4, 6 months, and +1 month post-intervention and correlated to obesity-related clinical outcomes. Lactobacillus and Akkermansia were more abundant with B420 at the end of the intervention. LU+B420 increased Akkermansia, Christensenellaceae and Methanobrevibacter, while Paraprevotella was reduced. Christensenellaceae was consistently increased in the LU and LU+B420 groups across the intervention time points, and correlated negatively to waist-hip ratio and energy intake at baseline, and waist-area body fat mass after 6 months treatment with LU+B420. Functional metagenome predictions indicated alterations in pathways related to cellular processes and metabolism. Plasma bile acids glycocholic acid, glycoursodeoxycholic acid, and taurohyodeoxycholic acid and tauroursodeoxycholic acid were reduced in LU+B420 compared to Placebo. Consumption of B420 and its combination with LU resulted in alterations of the gut microbiota and its metabolism, and may support improved gut barrier function and obesity-related markers.
Keywords: metabolic syndrome; metabolomics; microbiome; obesity.