Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus on plasma lipids



To select a probiotic bacteria that would reduce serum lipids in hypercholesterolaemic volunteers.


A strain of lactobacillus was selected for its ability to metabolise cholesterol under varying conditions in vitro. Freeze-dried Lactobacillus acidophilus or placebo were then given in a double-blind randomised crossover study to volunteers with high cholesterols.


A total of 80 volunteers with elevated cholesterols.


Volunteers were randomly allocated to receive either two capsules containing freeze-dried L. acidophilus 3 × 1010 CFU or placebo three times a day for 6 weeks. After a 6-week washout period, volunteers were crossed over to another 6 weeks of capsules. Serum lipids were measured at the beginning and end of each interventional period.


L. acidophilus was able to reduce cholesterol and survive in an acid and bile environment. No changes in anthropomorphic measurements or in dietary records were seen between the baseline and final records or between the two sets of baseline records. There were no changes in serum lipids seen throughout the study.


Despite the ability in vitro for L. acidophilus to reduce cholesterol, no effect was seen in volunteers.


Life-Care Technologies Ltd, Worcestershire.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1


  • Agerbaek M, Gerdes LU & Richelsen B (1995): Hypocholesterolaemic effects of a new fermented milk product in healthy middle-aged men. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 49, 346–352.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson JW & Gilliland SE (1999): Effect of fermented milk (yogurt) containing Lactobacillus acidophilus L1 on serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic humans. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 18, 43–50.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • De Smet I, De Boever P & Verstraete W (1998): Cholesterol lowering in pigs through enhanced bacterial bile hydrolase activity. Br. J. Nutr. 79, 185–194.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Englyst HN, Bingham SA, Runswick SA, Collinson E & Cummings JH (1988): Dietary fibre (non-starch polysaccharides) in fruit, vegetables and nuts. Gastroenterology 1, 247–286.

    Google Scholar 

  • Englyst HN, Bingham SA, Runswick SA, Collinson E & Cummings JH (1989): Dietary fibre (non-starch polysaccharides) in cereal products. J. Hum. Nutr. Diet. 2, 253–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gilliland SE, Nelson CR & Maxwell C (1985): Assimilation of cholesterol by Lactobacillus acidophilus. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 49, 377–381.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Hepner G, Fried R, St Jeor S, Fussetti L & Morin R (1979): Hypocholesterolemic effects of yogurt and milk. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 32, A19–A24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Klaver FA & Meer RVD (1993): The assumed assimilation of cholesterol by Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium bifidum is due to their bile salt-deconjugating activity. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59, 1120–1124.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Lin SY, Ayres JW, Winkler WJ & Sandine WE (1989): Lactobacillus effects on cholesterol: in vitro and in vivo results. J. Dairy Sci. 72, 2885–2899.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mann GV (1977): Hypocholesterolaemic effects of milk. Lancet ii, 556.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Massey LK (1984): Effect of changing milk and yogurt consumption on human nutrient intake and serum lipoproteins. J. Dairy Sci. 67, 255–262.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Paul AA & Southgate DAT (1978): McCance and Widdowson's, The Composition of Foods. Amsterdam, New York and Oxford: Elsevier/North-Holland Biomedical Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pereira DI & Gibson GR (2002): Effects of consumption of probiotics and prebiotics on serum lipid levels in humans. Crit. Rev. Biochem. Mol. Biol. 37, 259–281.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Richelsen B, Kristensen K & Pedersen SB (1996): Long-term (6 months) effect of a new fermented milk product on the level of plasma lipoproteins—a placebo controlled and double blind study. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 50, 811–813.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rossouw JE, Burger EM, Van De Vyver P & Ferreira J (1981): The effect of skim milk, yogurt, and full cream milk on human subjects. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 34, A351–A356.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schaafsma G, Meuling WJ, Dokkum W & Bouley C (1998): Effects of a milk prodict, fermented by Lactobacillus acidophilus and with fructo-oligosaccharides added, on blood lipids in male volunteers. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 52, 436–440.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson LU, Jenkins DJ, Amer MA, Reicher R, Jenkins A & Kamulsky J (1982): The effect of fermented and unfermented milks on serum cholesterol. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 36, 1106–1111.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank all the volunteers who took part in the study. We also thank Mr B Holden and Ms C Day of Life-Care Technologies Ltd, Worcestershire for their help and support with the study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to S J Lewis.

Additional information

Guarantors: SJ Lewis and S Burmeister.

Contributors: SJL and SB researched and wrote the review.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lewis, S., Burmeister, S. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus on plasma lipids. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 776–780 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • probiotic
  • cholesterol
  • lactobacilli

This article is cited by


Quick links