Two reasons to avoid products containing non-nutritive sweeteners identified

PARIS, April 6 (Benin News) –

A new study suggests that two sugar substitutes alter the function of a protein that plays an essential role in liver detoxification and the metabolism of certain drugs. These sugar substitutes, also called non-nutritive sweeteners, provide a sweet taste with little or no calories.

“An estimated 40% of people regularly consume non-nutritive sweeteners, so it’s important to understand how they affect the body,” says Laura Danner, a doctoral student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, USA. In fact, many people don’t realize that these sweeteners are found in diet or sugar-free versions of yogurts and snacks, and even in non-food items like liquid medications and some cosmetics.

In their new work, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology during the 2022 Experimental Biology (EB) meeting in Philadelphia, the researchers studied the non-nutritive sweetener acesulfame potassium and sucralose using liver cells and cell-free assays, allowing them to study cellular processes such as transport.

They found that acesulfame potassium and sucralose inhibited the activity of P-glycoprotein (PGP), also known as drug resistance protein 1 (MDR1). PGP is part of a family of transporters that work together to remove toxins, drugs and their metabolites from the body.

“We observed that sweeteners affected the activity of PGP in liver cells at concentrations expected from the consumption of common foods and beverages, well below the maximum limits recommended by the FDA,” explains Stephanie Olivier Van. Stichelen, PhD, who leads the research team. To our knowledge, we are the first group to decipher the molecular mechanism by which non-nutritive sweeteners affect detoxification in the liver.

Experiments also showed that sweeteners stimulate transport activity and likely bind to PGP, thereby competing with other substrates such as xenobiotics, drugs and their metabolites, short-chain lipids and acids. bile, and inhibiting their transport.

Although the researchers caution that the study is preliminary and needs to be confirmed by preclinical and clinical studies, the results suggest that non-nutritive sweeteners could be problematic for people taking medications that use PGP as a primary detoxifying transporter. These include certain antidepressants, antibiotics, and blood pressure medications.

“If future studies confirm that non-nutritive sweeteners interfere with the body’s detoxification process, it would be essential to investigate possible interactions and determine safe consumption levels for at-risk groups,” Danner points out. It may also be important to include specific amounts of non-nutritive sweeteners on food labels so people can better track their intake.

Although the FDA recommends that non-nutritive sweeteners be kept below an acceptable daily intake — the amount contained in about 35 diet sodas for acesulfame potassium or eight diet sodas for sucralose per day — food manufacturers are only required to mention them in the list of ingredients. They should not indicate the amount of non-nutritive sweetener used in the product.

Next, the researchers plan to use more complex drug transport models to determine how acesulfame potassium and sucralose may interfere with drug detoxification and metabolism. They are also studying blends of these sweeteners, which would be more representative of how they end up in food products.

The researchers note that since PGP is expressed on exchange surfaces throughout the body and plays an important role in maintaining systems such as the blood-brain barrier, it will also be important to study how inhibition of PGP could interfere with the normal function of cells in other organs.

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