This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, and parallel-designed study was conducted to investigate the effect of a synbiotic product containing Lactobacillus gasseri [corrected] CHO-220 and inulin on lipid profiles of hypercholesterolemic men and women. Thirty-two hypercholesterolemic men and women with initial mean plasma cholesterol levels of 5.7±0.32 mmol/L were recruited for the 12-wk study. The subjects were randomly allocated to 2 groups; namely the treatment group (synbiotic product) and the control group (placebo), and each received 4 capsules of synbiotic or placebo daily. Our results showed that the mean body weight, energy, and nutrient intake of the subjects did not differ between the 2 groups over the study period. The supplementation of synbiotic reduced plasma total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol by 7.84 and 9.27%, respectively, compared with the control over 12 wk. Lipoproteins were subsequently subfractionated and characterized. The synbiotic supplementation resulted in a lower concentration of triglycerides in the very low, intermediate, low, and high-density lipoprotein particles compared with the control over 12 wk. The concentration of triglycerides in lipoproteins is positively correlated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis. Our results showed that the synbiotic might exhibit an atheropreventive characteristic. Cholesteryl ester (CE) in the high-density lipoprotein particles of the synbiotic group was also higher compared with the control, indicating greater transport of cholesterol in the form of CE to the liver for hydrolysis. This may have led to the reduced plasma total cholesterol level of the synbiotic group. The supplementation of synbiotic also reduced the concentration of CE in the LDL particles compared with the control, leading to the formation of smaller and denser particles that are more easily removed from blood. This supported the reduced LDL-cholesterol level of the synbiotic group compared with the control. Our present study showed that the synbiotic product improved plasma total- and LDL-cholesterol levels by modifying the interconnected pathways of lipid transporters. In addition, although Lactobacillus gasseri [corrected] CHO-220 could deconjugate bile, our results showed a statistically insignificant difference in the levels of conjugated, deconjugated, primary, and secondary bile acids between the synbiotic and control groups over 12 wk, indicating safety from bile-related toxicity.
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