Artificial sweeteners alter duodenal microbiome

A recent study has found that consuming non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) leads to significant changes in both stool and duodenal microbial diversity and composition and levels of circulating inflammatory markers.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, analyzed samples from the REIMAGINE (Revealing the Entire Intestinal Microbiota and its Associations with the Genetic, Immunologic, and Neuroendocrine Ecosystem) study to assess the potential effects of NSS consumption on the duodenal luminal microbiome. They analyzed 25 people consuming non-aspartame non-sugar sweeteners (NANS) and nine people taking aspartame (ASP) only, and compared them with 55 control participants matched for age, sex and body mass index. 40 also participants provided stool samples for additional analysis.

The research found that duodenal diversity was lower in NANS consumers vs controls, while duodenal relative abundance (RA) of Escherichia, Klebsiella, and Salmonella was lower in both NANS and ASP vs controls, whereas stool RA of these phylum Proteobacteria was increased in both NANS and ASP groupd.

Compared with controls, NANS and ASP were found to differ in how they altered duodenal microbial metabolic pathways, with NANS impacting polysaccharides biosynthesis and D-galactose degradation and ASP significantly enriching biosynthesis of cylindrospermopsin, a potential cancer-causing agent known to adversely impact the liver and nervous system.

Finally, circulating levels of interleukin (IL)-1b, a pro-inflammatory cytokine that plays a key role in the immune response, were significantly decreased in NANS vs controls, whereas IL-6 and IL-10, two cytokines with protective properties, were decreased in the ASP group vs controls.

The surveys authors concluded that “Given the crucial role played by small intestinal microbes in digestion, nutrient absorption, immune regulation, and endocrine functions, coupled with the substantial prevalence of NSS consumption among US adults, our findings have potential implications for metabolic and gastrointestinal health in a considerable proportion of the American adult population.”

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