The effects of pro-, pre-, and synbiotics on muscle wasting, a systematic review—gut permeability as potential treatment target

Krimpen, Sandra J. van; Jansen, Fleur A.C.; Ottenheim, Veerle L.; Belzer, Clara; Ende, Miranda van der; Norren, Klaske van


Muscle wasting is a frequently observed, inflammation-driven condition in aging and disease, known as sarcopenia and cachexia. Current treatment strategies target the muscle directly and are often not able to reverse the process. Because a reduced gut function is related to systemic inflammation, this might be an indirect target to ameliorate muscle wasting, by administering pro-, pre-, and synbiotics. Therefore, this review aimed to study the potential of pro-, pre-, and synbiotics to treat muscle wasting and to elucidate which metabolites and mechanisms affect the organ crosstalk in cachexia. Overall, the literature shows that Lactobacillus species pluralis (spp.) and possibly other genera, such as Bifidobacterium, can ameliorate muscle wasting in mouse models. The beneficial effects of Lactobacillus spp. supplementation may be attributed to its potential to improve microbiome balance and to its reported capacity to reduce gut permeability. A subsequent literature search revealed that the reduction of a high gut permeability coincided with improved muscle mass or strength, which shows an association between gut permeability and muscle mass. A possible working mechanism is proposed, involving lactate, butyrate, and reduced inflammation in gut–brain–muscle crosstalk. Thus, reducing gut permeability via Lactobacillus spp. supplementation could be a potential treatment strategy for muscle wasting.