Nutraceutical approach for the management of cardiovascular risk - a combination containing the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 and red yeast rice extract: results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Nutr J. 2019 Feb 22;18(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12937-019-0438-2.


Background: Probiotics incorporated into dairy products have been shown to reduce total (TC) and LDL cholesterolemia (LDL-C) in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia. More specifically, probiotics with high biliary salt hydrolase activity, e.g. Bifidobacterium longum BB536, may decrease TC and LDL-C by lowering intestinal cholesterol reabsorption and, combined with other nutraceuticals, may be useful to manage hypercholesterolemia in subjects with low cardiovascular (CV) risk. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a nutraceutical combination containing Bifidobacterium longum BB536, red yeast rice (RYR) extract (10 mg/day monacolin K), niacin, coenzyme Q10 (Lactoflorene Colesterolo®). The end-points were changes of lipid CV risk markers (LDL-C, TC, non-HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides (TG), apolipoprotein B (ApoB), HDL-C, apolipoprotein AI (ApoAI), lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a), proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9)), and of markers of cholesterol synthesis/absorption.

Methods: A 12-week randomized, parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Thirty-three subjects (18-70 years) in primary CV prevention and low CV risk (SCORE: 0-1% in 24 and 2-4% in 9 subjects; LDL-C: 130-200 mg/dL) were randomly allocated to either nutraceutical (N = 16) or placebo (N = 17).

Results: Twelve-week treatment with the nutraceutical combination, compared to placebo, significantly reduced TC (- 16.7%), LDL-C (- 25.7%), non-HDL-C (- 24%) (all p < 0.0001), apoB (- 17%, p = 0.003). TG, HDL-C, apoAI, Lp(a), PCSK9 were unchanged. Lathosterol:TC ratio was significantly reduced by the nutraceutical combination, while campesterol:TC ratio and sitosterol:TC ratio did not change, suggesting reduction of synthesis without increased absorption of cholesterol. No adverse effects and a 97% compliance were observed.

Conclusions: A 12-week treatment with a nutraceutical combination containing the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 and RYR extract significantly improved the atherogenic lipid profile and was well tolerated by low CV risk subjects.

Trial registration: NCT02689934 .

Keywords: Cardiovascular risk; Hypercholesterolemia; LDL-cholesterol; Monacolin K; Non-HDL cholesterol; Nutraceutical; Probiotic.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bifidobacterium longum*
  • Biological Products / administration & dosage*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Niacin / administration & dosage
  • Placebos
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Risk Factors
  • Ubiquinone / administration & dosage
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives


  • Biological Products
  • Placebos
  • red yeast rice
  • Ubiquinone
  • Niacin
  • coenzyme Q10

Associated data