The effects of probiotics on total cholesterol: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Abstract

Background:

Probiotics supplements provide a new nonpharmacological alternative to reduce cardiovascular risk factors. The impact of probiotics on the reduction of total cholesterol (TC) remains controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis to showcase the most updated and comprehensive evaluation of the studies.

Methods:

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were searched from electronic databases, including PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang database dating from January 2007 to January 2017. The curative effects of probiotics on the reduction of TC were assessed using mean difference (MD), as well as their 95% confidence interval (CI). RevMan software (version 5.3) was used to carry out this meta-analysis.

Results:

Thirty-two RCTs including 1971 patients met the inclusion criteria. Results of this analysis showed that compared with the control group serum TC was significantly reduced in probiotics group [MD = −13.27, 95% CI (−16.74 to 9.80), P < .05]. In addition, specific strains also significantly reduced serum TC, L acidophilus and B lactis [MD = −8.30, 95% CI (−10.44, −6.15), P < .05]; VSL#3 [MD = −11.04, 95% CI (−19.61, −2.48), P < .05]; L plantarum t ≤ 6 weeks: [MD = −1.56, 95% CI (−6.97, −3.86), P < .05] or t > 6 weeks: [MD = −22.18, 95% CI (−28.73, −15.63), P < .05]. Subgroup analysis indicated that the difference of baseline TC, probiotics forms and intervention duration might have a significant impact on the results. However, strains and doses of probiotics had no significant influence on curative effects.

Conclusion:

Available evidence indicates that probiotics supplements can significantly reduce serum TC. Furthermore, higher baseline TC, longer intervention time, and probiotics in capsules form might contribute to a better curative effect.

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