Probiotics Contribute to Glycemic Control in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Adv Nutr. 2021 Jun 1;12(3):722-734. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmaa133.


This systematic review aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of probiotics for glycemic control in adults with impaired glucose control, including prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). We searched PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane databases, and trial registries up to February 2019. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of participants with prediabetes or T2DM. Eligible trials compared probiotics versus either placebo, no intervention, or comparison probiotics, or compared synbiotics versus prebiotics. Primary outcomes were mean change in fasting blood glucose (FBG) and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) from baseline to short term (<12 wk) and long term (≥12 wk). We performed meta-analyses using the random-effects model. We included 28 RCTs (1947 participants). Overall, probiotics reduced FBG more than the placebo/no intervention group with a mean difference (MD) of -12.99 mg/dL (95% CI: -23.55, -2.42; P value: 0.016) over the short term; and -2.99 mg/dL (95% CI: -5.84, -0.13; P value: 0.040) over the long term. There was also some evidence for reduced HbA1c in the probiotics group at both short term (MD: -0.17; 95% CI: -0.37, 0.02; P value: 0.084) and long term (MD: -0.14; 95% CI: -0.34, 0.06; P value: 0.172), however, these did not reach statistical significance possibly because only a few trials reported HbA1c as an outcome. Subgroup analyses showed a greater reduction in HbA1c in participants not receiving insulin therapy than those receiving insulin therapy. Furthermore, the effect of probiotics on the reduction of FBG was more pronounced in participants with FBG >130 mg/dL and those not receiving insulin therapy than their counterparts. Probiotics were also effective in lowering serum cholesterol over the short and long term. In conclusion, we found that probiotics may have a glucose-lowering effect in T2DM participants. The effect appeared to be stronger in participants with poorly controlled diabetes and those not on insulin therapy. Systematic review registration: CRD42019121682.

Keywords: glycemic control; meta-analysis; probiotics; systematic review; type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Glycemic Control
  • Humans
  • Insulin
  • Probiotics* / therapeutic use


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Insulin