Researchers at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium have conducted the first pilot study in humans to observe the impact of the Akkermansia muciniphila bacterium, particularly on the reduction of cardiovascular risk factors. The results, which were recently published in Nature Medicine, indicate that Akkermansia significantly limits the increase of several risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), tempers the progression of pre-diabetes, and reduces cholesterol levels.
In 2007, researchers from Louvain Drug Research Institute and the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands discovered that Akkermansia muciniphila’s could moderate the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes in mice. Through further mouse studies in 2017, the team discovered that a pasteurized form of the bacterium provided an even greater protection than the living bacterium, for various CVD risk factors such as insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia, and fat storage in adipose tissue.
Following these discoveries, the current team developed a clinical study to administer the bacteria to humans.
The researchers administered Akkermansia to overweight or obese volunteers, who all had pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Subjects were randomly divided into three groups to receive placebo, or live bacteria, or pasteurized bacteria, and were asked to maintain their current dietary habits and physical activity. Akkermansia was provided as a nutritional supplement.
The study’s primary goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of daily ingestion of Akkermansia for three months without risk. The supplements were easy to ingest and there were no side effects observed in either treatment group.
Findings showed that pasteurized Akkermansia reduced pre-diabetes and cardiovascular risks. In addition, subjects had decreased inflammation markers in the liver, a slight decrease in body weight (average, 2.3 kg), and lowered cholesterol levels. In contrast, insulin resistance or hypercholesterolemia in subjects taking placebo continued to deteriorate over time.
The researchers say a large-scale study is needed to confirm/elaborate on these results, and are hopeful the findings could lead to the commercialization of Akkermansia as a food supplement.
Source: Catholic University of Louvain, July 1, 2019