Probiotics Reported to be Potentially Protective against Heavy Metal Poisoning

Probiotics are the bacteria and yeast that complement the beneficial bacteria inside our body. They are mainly good for the digestive system, especially among infants. The advantages offered by probiotics are elevated by the addition of prebiotics. Together they make a synbiotic combination which is reported to be effective against the heavy metals that may poison our body if accumulated in large amounts.


This combination was investigated by the Iranian scientists who proved them to be potentially protective against acute cadmium poisoning.

Cadmium is a common heavy metal, frequently found in industrial wastes. It also occurs in soil and drinking water, usually in low amounts. Owing to its soluble nature, plants can easily absorb it. When absorbed by the plants, it accumulates inside the food products which consequently, lead it to the human body. It is also absorbed by the lungs through cigarette smoke.

Cadmium is toxic if accumulated in high concentrations inside the body. It damages the organs brutally and mainly targets the liver and kidneys. It also gives rise to reactive oxygen species rendering the body under oxidative stress. Moreover, it damages the protective antioxidants and enzymes present inside the body. It may also trigger the oxidation of DNA, lipids, and proteins.

Heavy metals are removed by the process of Chelation. However, the chemical chelators pose adverse effects on the body like burning sensations, fever, chills, and constant headache.

The researchers from the Shiraz University (Shiraz U) researched and investigated the potential characteristics of the synbiotic combination. The main aim of the study was to find out a safe alternative for removing heavy metals inside our body.

Probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus plantarum can bind heavy metals. Meanwhile, Bacillus coagulans strains survive through the gastrointestinal tract effectively. Inulin is used to boost the combination of these probiotics.

The Shiraz U researchers employed the aforementioned combination as a synbiotic supplement to prevent cadmium intoxication in rats.

Four groups of rats were made for the study. Probiotic suspensions of B. coagulans and L. plantarum were prepared.

The control group got a standard diet and saline placebo, while the cadmium group was given cadmium. The other two groups received inulin prebiotics in their diet and either L. plantarum or B. coagulans suspensions.

The rats were sacrificed on the 21st and 42nd day of the study and blood samples, kidneys, and livers were collected for analysis.

The researchers evaluated the presence and concentration of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. They also examined lipid peroxidation in the blood. Biochemical parameters such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), bilirubin, and creatinine were also assessed.

It was found that the cadmium group of rats had lost significant weight and behaved inactively. On contrary, the groups fed with synbiotic supplementation showed healthier body weights. They also exhibited better levels of the superoxide dismutase enzyme in the blood and liver. However, the level of glutathione peroxidase and lipid peroxidation were the same in the treated groups. Synbiotic diet altered their serum activities like that of ALT and AST to a lower extent. The creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels were also found to be low. However, the level of total bilirubin had been raised by cadmium.

Most importantly, the level of cadmium was reported to be significantly reduced in the synbiotically treated rats. Both the bacterial suspensions were found to be equally effective, as both bacteria bound cadmium through adsorption.

The researchers concluded that synbiotic diets and supplements can serve as a safe way to remove cadmium from the body. They are attributed to shield the liver and kidneys from the toxic effects of the heavy metals. They are expected to restore enzymes that produce antioxidants. Thus, they can complement a safe and easy removal of toxic metals from our body.






Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan has studied bio-medical sciences and loves to contribute her research into the field of health through her writing. Her expertise includes product reviews and health news reporting but she enjoys writing research-based news, the most. Twitter- @MichelleKwan19

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