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Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2018 Nov;22(21):7588-7605. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_201811_16301.

Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics for weight loss and metabolic syndrome in the microbiome era.

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Microbiology Unit, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy.



Excessive body fat and the associated dysmetabolic consequences affect both developed and emerging countries. An altered gut microbiota composition is an important environmental cause of these conditions. Clinical trials targeting gut microbiome composition or functions with pro or prebiotics to promote a healthier profile are considered a promising tool for excessive body weight treatment and prevention of dysmetabolic complications.


We searched PubMed and Cochrane Library using combinations of probiotics/prebiotics and synbiotics with obesity/weight loss/metabolic syndrome as the search terms. Clinical studies and significant pre-clinical results showing molecular mechanisms supporting clinical results were also discussed.


Several studies in humans and in animal models have elucidated biological mechanisms supporting the observed clinical efficacy of selected probiotic and prebiotic compounds for weight management. Efficacy appears to be species or strain-specific. Fibers such as inulin or galactomannan promote independent and synergistic beneficial effects.


Diet supplementation with synbiotics prepared using selected strains (such as Lactobacillus gasseri strains) showed to exert weight-reduction and anti-inflammatory activity in large independent studies. Their administration, together with galactomannan and/or inulin fibers, may increase weight management effects due to synergistic effect on short chain fatty acid production and microbiota 're-configuration'.

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