Microbiome

Obesity Probiotics – more hype than substance over the use of microbiome-targeting therapies

Posted on 3 August 2019

Among commensal bacteria residing in the gut, A. muciniphila has attracted growing interest for its various health-promoting effects in preclinical studies.

A study found that pasteurised A. muciniphila supplementation decreased serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and creatine kinase levels, two enzymes considered valid markers of whole-body tissue damage and muscle-specific injury, respectively. It also showed that pasteurised A. muciniphila reduced WBC counts and alleviated metabolic endotoxemia, in line with previous pre-clinical work showing that this bacterium exerts anti-inflammatory effects.

However, there are a number of issues with this study. For starters, the authors of this paper hold a patent for the use of A. muciniphila and its components in the context of obesity and related disorders. A clear conflict of interest.

The use of surrogate parameters (e.g. hip circumferemce) instead of measuring direct clinical outcomes also raises questions as to the actual efficacy of this treatment. Not to mention that the study only involved 32 participants which the authors themselves noted “was not powered to deliver definitive conclusions on the end points related to metabolic parameters”

All in all, the only conclusion that can be drawn with any confidence is that the treatments didn’t cause any safety issues in participants. This study is one of many in the microbiome field that illustrate the problem of the over-eagerness to jump to conclusions from inconclusive and/or poor quality findings.


References

  1. Clara Depommier, Amandine Everard et al. Supplementation with Akkermansia muciniphila in overweight and obese human volunteers: a proof-of-concept exploratory study. Nature Medicine, 25, 7, 7 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41591-019-0495-2
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