Postbiotics in microbiome science and health

17 June  2021 – 3 min read

Microbiome science keeps expanding and evolving at an accelerated rate. Scientists, healthcare professionals and consumers are progressively more aware of the microbiota, and how its modulation can have a beneficial impact on health status. The number of products that claim to be microbiota modulators keeps growing in all markets worldwide, promoting a more natural approach to disease treatment and prevention.

The main dietary interventions that have positive effects on the microbiota are probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics and postbiotics. A consensus definition has been established for each one of them, as guidance to easily differentiate science-backed products in the market.  

Probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.

A prebiotic is a “substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit”

A synbiotic, initially conceived as a combination of both probiotics and prebiotics, has now been defined as “a mixture comprising live microorganisms and substrate(s) selectively utilized by host microorganisms that confers a health benefit on the host.

Postbiotic is the newest, latest concept linked with microbiota modulation, closely related to probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics. Its main characteristic is that a postbiotic is not alive, therefore being easily differentiated from a probiotic.

A panel of experts of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) recently published an article agreeing on the term postbiotic, as a “preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host”. 

The possibility that dead microorganisms, their components, or end-products might have health benefits has had little attention in the past. However, the number of clinical studies testing bacterial lysates or inactivated probiotics has grown recently, gaining awareness and recognition. Postbiotics show some features that drive interest on its study and commercialisation. These include their inherent stability throughout the manufacturing chain, maintaining their properties in adverse conditions (temperature fluctuations, or others) and their increased safety profile.

Postbiotics are not only inactivated microbial cells, but also cell components that present health benefits.

Interestingly, a postbiotic does not have to be derived from a probiotic. This is the case of LipiGO®, a product containing two components extracted from a Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain used for brewing. LipiGO® is a mix of beta-glucans and chitin-chitosan (BGCC extract), to polysaccharides commonly found on the yeast cell wall. Following all science standards, the BGCC extract has been tested in two different clinical trials, showing quite interesting and breakthrough results on metabolic health. Particularly, LipiGO® has been shown to reduce weight and waist circumference in obese and overweight individuals. Its robust clinical results have allowed the product to be approved as a medical device in Europe, with three main claims:

  • Treatment of Type I obesity and overweight
  • Reduction of the rebound effect after a diet
  • Reduction in the absorption of calories from dietary fat

The mechanisms of action of postbiotics are wide and differ depending on the inactivated molecules and their products. The BGCC extract presents a characteristic mechanism of action, derived from its unique binding ability. The BGCC extract is able to reduce the absorption of fat calories ingested in every meal, binding to saturated fats only, like palmitic acid and cholesterol. With good stability along the stomach and large intestine, the postbiotic increases the elimination of saturated fats by 42%, without changing the absorption of good fats, including omega 3.

LipiGO® development contributes to postbiotics science, as an innovative and natural solution for weight management.

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Authors: Claudia Prat (Human Biologist)