Longer period of oral administration of aspartame on cytokine response in Wistar albino rats.
Endocrinol Nutr. 2015 Mar ;62(3):114-22. Epub 2015 Feb 11. PMID: 25681123
Arbind Kumar Choudhary
INTRODUCTION: Aspartame is a non-nutritive sweetener particularly used in 'diet' and 'low calorie' products and also in a variety of foods, drugs and hygiene products. Aspartame is metabolized by gut esterases and peptidases to three common chemicals: the amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and small amounts of methanol. The aim of the present study was to assess potential changes in molecular mediators of aspartame as a chemical stressor in rats.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The effects of long-term administration of aspartame (40 mg/kg body weight/day) were tested in Wistar Albino rats. The treatment effects were assessed in different conditions, including control groups. After 90 days of treatment, circulating concentrations of different parameters were assessed: corticosterone, lipid peroxidation, antioxidant activity, nitric oxide, reduced glutathione and cytokines (interleukin 2, interleukin 4, tumor necrosis factor-α and interferon-γ).
RESULTS: The results show that there was a significant increase in plasma corticosterone, serum lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide level along with a decrease in enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant as well as significant decrease in interleukin 2, tumor necrosis factor-α and interferon-γ. There was also a significant increase in interleukin 4 irrespective of whether the animals were immunized or not.
CONCLUSION: The findings clearly point out that aspartame acts as a chemical stressor because of increased corticosterone level and increased lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide level induce generation of free radicals in serum which may be the reason for variation of cytokine level and finally results in alteration of immune function. Aspartame metabolite methanol or formaldehyde may be the causative factors behind the changes observed.