Gut Bacteria Supplementation Improves Metabolic Parameters in Overweight Volunteers

By Will Boggs

July 09, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Supplementation with the commensal gut bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila improved metabolic parameters in overweight and obese volunteers, in a proof-of-concept exploratory study.

"The primary goal of our study was to demonstrate the feasibility of daily ingesting Akkermansia for three months, without risk," Dr. Patrice D. Cani from Louvain Drug Research Institute, Universite catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium told Reuters Health by email. "We observed excellent compliance (the supplements were easy to ingest) and tolerance (there were no side effects) in the groups taking live or pasteurized bacteria."

In an earlier study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Dr. Cani and colleagues showed that live Akkermansia reduced weight gain and fat mass gain in high-fat diet-fed mice by improving their gut barrier. (

In the current study, they evaluated the feasibility, safety, and tolerance of A. muciniphila supplementation (for three months) and explored its metabolic effects in 40 overweight/obese insulin-resistant volunteers.

After three months, the placebo group showed significant increases of fasting plasma insulin, whereas participants who received either live or pasteurized A. muciniphila showed approximate 30% reductions in plasma insulin levels (compared with the placebo group), although the effect was statistically significant only with the pasteurized bacteria.

Both forms of A. muciniphila improved insulin sensitivity (significantly with the pasteurized supplement), also by about 30%, according to the July 1st Nature Medicine online report.

Pasteurized A. muciniphila administration was associated with significant decreases in total cholesterol and GGT and AST (but not ALT) levels.

Pasteurized A. muciniphila supplementation was also associated with nonsignificant decreases in body weight, fat mass, and hip circumference, compared with placebo supplementation.

Supplementation significantly increased the quantity of A. muciniphila recovered in the feces of the pasteurized and live groups without otherwise altering the microbiota composition from baseline.

"It is key to take the message that this discovery is a pilot study," Dr. Cani said. "We need to replicate this in a larger cohort and, even more importantly, the first and key option that we have in hand to improve health remains to adopt strict dietary habits and physical activities; in other words, I think that this discovery will be helpful if used together with the classical dietary (recommendations), but will not replace them."

"The bacteria is not yet commercially available; this is expected for end 2020, early 2021," he said.


Nature Medicine 2019.