Researchers have discovered that the use of a pasteurised form of Akkermansia muciniphila-an intestinal bacterium provides greater protection from various cardiovascular disease risk factors.
According to the findings published in the journal Nature Medicine, the research team from the University of Louvain developed a clinical study in order to administer the bacteria to humans.
For the study, 40 participants were enrolled and 32 completed the trial. The researchers administered Akkermansia to overweight or obese participants, all displaying insulin resistance (pre-diabetes type 2) and metabolic syndrome, in other words, having several elevated risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
The participants were randomly divided into three groups -- placebo group, those taking live bacteria and those taking pasteurised bacteria -- and were asked not to change their dietary habits or their physical activity. Akkermansia was provided as a nutritional supplement.
The primary goal of the study was to demonstrate the feasibility of ingesting Akkermansia daily for three months, without risk.
The researchers observed excellent compliance - the supplements were easy to ingest and there were no side effects in the groups taking live or pasteurised bacteria.
According to the study, the tests in humans confirm what had already been observed in mice. Ingestion of the (pasteurised) bacterium prevented the deterioration of the health status of the subjects (pre-diabetes, cardiovascular risks).
Even better, the researchers observed a decrease in inflammation markers in the liver, a slight decrease in the body weight of the subjects (2.3 kg on average) as well as a lowering of cholesterol levels.
In contrast, the metabolic parameters (insulin resistance or hypercholesterolemia) in placebo subjects continued to deteriorate over time.
This research would limit cardiovascular risks and therefore potentially have an impact on half of the population, if properly used, researchers said.