Could Prebiotic and Biotin Supplementation Improve Obesity, Metabolic Function?

Supplementation with biotin and prebiotics may prevent deterioration of metabolic states among individuals with severe obesity, according to study findings published in the journal Gut.

Researchers sourced data from the cross-sectional European MetaCardis study, which included 2214 participants who were enrolled between 2013 and 2015 at 3 centers in Europe. For the current study, researchers analyzed a subset of 1545 participants from the MetaCardis study. After stratifying patients by normal BMI (<25 kg/m2; n=638), overweight or obese (BMI 25-34.9 kg/m2; n=299), and severely obese (³35 kg/m2; n=608) status, researchers evaluated the interaction between gut microbiota and metabolic outcomes. A total of 430 individuals were metabolically unhealthy, 657 had type 2 diabetes (T2D), and 458 were metabolically healthy. Functional analyses were performed using mouse models of obesity.

Obesity and metabolic health status explained the highest, nonredundant fraction of the microbiome (false discovery rate [FDR], 1.0´10-4) followed by BMI (FDR, 1.0´10-4), metformin use (FDR, 1.0´10-4), percentage of fat mass (FDR, 1.0´10-4), serum triglycerides (FDR, 7.0´10-4), plasma glucose (FDR, 1.82´10-2), and statin use (FDR, 2.1´10-2).

In a linear regression analysis, abundance of biotin transport and biosynthesis potential was negatively associated with BMI, fat mass, waist circumference, visceral fat rating, fasting plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin, C-peptide, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, total leucocytes, neutrophils, and monocyte counts. Overall estimates of microbial biotin production confirmed these findings, indicating an interplay between host metabolism, inflammatory state, and disturbed homeostasis of bacterial biotin metabolism among individuals who have severe obesity.

Most of the severe obesity group (78.09%) were found to have suboptimal (200-400 ng/L) or deficient (<200 ng/L) serum biotin levels, compared with 19.65% among those with normal BMI.

In order to evaluate whether a high-fat diet contributed to the altered microbial biotin metabolism, mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD). The mice with HFD-induced obesity were found to have significantly lower plasma biotin levels compared with chow-fed animals at 13 weeks (P =3.72´10-3). After undergoing bariatric surgery, plasma biotin was significantly increased after surgical intervention (P =7.34´10-2).

Next, the investigators evaluated the effect of a prebiotic (fructo-oligosaccharide). Mice who received the prebiotic coupled with the high-fat diet had a 136.6-fold increase of circulating biotin after supplementation compared with mice not receiving supplementation.

Mice that received both biotin and prebiotic supplementation were found to have limitation of body weight gain, reduction of fat mass accumulation, decrease in fasting glucose, and improved Homeostatic Model Assessment for Insulin Resistance (all FDR £.05).

These findings should be replicated among humans.

“A concomitant management of gut dysbiosis via gut-focused therapies (eg, prebiotics), and B vitamin availability, including biotin, appears interesting to prevent obesity from transitioning to a more severe metabolic state,” the study authors noted.

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original article for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Belda E, Voland L, Tremaroli V, et al. Impairment of gut microbial biotin metabolism and host biotin status in severe obesity: effect of biotin and prebiotic supplementation on improved metabolism. Gut. Published online January 11, 2022. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2021-325753

This article originally appeared on Gastroenterology Advisor