Probiotics for women’s health: new evidence in post-menopausal women

Harnessing the benefits of L. plantarum PBS067, L. rhamnosus LRH020, and B. lactis BL050 for post-menopausal symptom relief.

A recent study, held in Italy, has confirmed the remarkable benefits of a combination of L. plantarum PBS067, L. rhamnosus LRH020, and B. lactis BL050 on women’s health. While previous investigations focused on women aged 18-45, the latest findings underscore the significant potential of this probiotic combination for post-menopausal women. The study, published on Nutrients, focused on a cohort of 50 healthy post-menopausal women and demonstrated the probiotics’ ability to positively modulate the vaginal microbiota and enhance immune response over 28 days.

Menopause, marked by a reduction in ovarian function and hormonal changes, triggers various physiological and psychosocial alterations. Aside from common symptoms, women also face increased risks of cardiovascular complications, bone fragility, and vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA). The latter, a consequence of sex steroid loss, leads to vaginal microbiota dysbiosis as well as discomforts such as decreased vaginal elasticity, hydration, and an elevated risk of urinary infections.

Vaginal microbiota fluctuation was assessed through vaginal swabs for NGS analysis. The trial demonstrated a significant reduction in the genus Staphylococcus (p<0.05), a lowering of Gardnerella and Atopobium, coupled with an increase in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium abundance. In just 28 days a remarkable 28% and 7% improvement in the relative abundance of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, respectively, was recorded, with notable benefits observed at the species level, particularly for L. crispatus.

The Vaginal Health Index is a clinical tool, which evaluates five parameters (vaginal hydration, elasticity, secretions, pH, and epithelial mucous membrane) to assess the condition of VVA and the vaginal well-being. Results showed a 50% overall improvement, including a 60% increase in elasticity and fluid volume, indicating enhanced lubrication and reduced atrophy and inflammation. Both mucosal hydration and vaginal epithelium integrity demonstrated increased levels at the end of the trial, achieving 50% and 33%, respectively. pH measurements revealed a 58% reduction, with nearly 60% of women having a pH > 6.0 at the beginning, decreasing to 6% after 28 days of treatment. Noteworthy changes in other pH ranges included a shift from 61% to 36% in the range between 5.6 and 6 and from 31% to 4% in the range between 5.1 and 5.5 between the beginning and the end of the study.

In addition, the study evaluated local cytokine expression associated with inflammatory processes. Vaginal levels of IL-6, IL-1β, TNF-α, and IL-8 were measured, with a significant reduction observed at the end of the trial. These findings align with positive trends observed in other parameters, collectively highlighting probiotics’ positive impact on post-menopausal women.

The study highlights that the administration of the probiotic supplement composed by L. plantarum PBS067, L. rhamnosus LRH020, and B. lactis BL050 could effectively support women during post-menopause, emphasizing the potential implementation of probiotics in managing associated symptoms. Importantly, the researchers reported the supplement’s excellent tolerability and safety, as it demonstrated no adverse effects.In summary, this study not only contributes valuable insights into the positive modulation of the vaginal microbiota but also adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of specific probiotics in women’s health across different life stages and related conditions.

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Vicariotto, F., Malfa, P., Viciani, E., Dell’Atti, F., Squarzanti, D. F., Marcante, A., … & De Leo, V. (2024). Efficacy of Lactiplantibacillus plantarum PBS067, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BL050, and Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus LRH020 in the Amelioration of Vaginal Microbiota in Post-Menopausal Women: A Prospective Observational Clinical Trial. Nutrients16(3), 402.