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Effect of probiotics on obesity-related markers per enterotype: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial

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Prevention and improvement of disease symptoms are important issues, and probiotics are suggested as a good treatment for controlling the obesity. Human gut microbiota has different community structures. Because gut microbial composition is assumed to be linked to probiotic function, this study evaluated the efficacy of probiotics on obesity-related clinical markers according to gut microbial enterotype.


Fifty subjects with body mass index over 25 kg/m2 were randomly assigned to either the probiotic or placebo group. Each group received either unlabeled placebo or probiotic capsules for 12 weeks. Body weight, waist circumference, and body composition were measured every 3 weeks. Using computed tomography, total abdominal fat area and visceral fat area were measured. Blood and fecal samples were collected before and after the intervention for biochemical parameters and gut microbial compositions analysis.


Gut microbial compositions of all the subjects were classified into two enterotypes according to Prevotella/Bacteroides ratio. The fat percentage, blood glucose, and insulin significantly increased in the Prevotella-rich enterotype of the placebo group. The obesity-related markers, such as waist circumference, total fat area, visceral fat, and ratio of visceral to subcutaneous fat area, were significantly reduced in the probiotic group. The decrease of obesity-related markers was greater in the Prevotella-rich enterotype than in the Bacteroides-rich enterotype.


Administration of probiotics improved obesity-related markers in obese people, and the efficacy of probiotics differed per gut microbial enterotype and greater responses were observed in the Prevotella-dominant enterotype.

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This research was supported by Main Research Program (E0170601-03) of the Korea Food Research Institute (KFRI) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT.

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Correspondence to Hojun Kim or Young-Do Nam.

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This study was conducted according to the principles of Declaration of Helsinki and good clinical practice guidelines. The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Ilsan Dongguk University Hospital (approval number 2016-02) and registered in Clinical Research Information Service (CRIS identifier: KCT0002292). Written informed consent has also been obtained from all the participants.

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Song, E., Han, K., Lim, T. et al. Effect of probiotics on obesity-related markers per enterotype: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. EPMA Journal 11, 31–51 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13167-020-00198-y

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  • Predictive preventive personalized medicine
  • Probiotics
  • Obesity
  • Clinical trial
  • Gut microbial enterotype