Sweetener Sucralose can impact T Cell immune response limiting T cell proliferation and differentiation

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The intake of high doses of sucralose results in immunomodulatory effects by limiting T cell proliferation and T cell differentiation. 

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered that high consumption of sucralose, a widely used artificial sweetener, can reduce the activation of T-cells, a crucial part of the immune system, in mice.

If this effect can also be observed in humans, sucralose may be employed therapeutically to regulate T-cell responses, such as in patients with autoimmune diseases who experience uncontrolled T-cell activation.

In a study published in peer reviewed journal: Nature on March 15, the study team from Francis Crick Institute examined the consequences of sucralose on the immune systems of mice.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-05801-6

Sucralose (E 955), FSA-Q-2011-00724, was discovered in 1976. Sucralose is sold under the brand name Splenda® [23]. Sucralose is a substituted disaccharide, a non-nutritive sweetener that is synthesized by the selective chlorination of sucrose in three of the primary hydroxyl groups [34].

The chemical name for sucralose is 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-b-D-fructofuranosyl 4-chloro-4-deoxy-a-D-galactopyranoside [24]. Taking sucrose as a reference, its sweetening power is 600 [24]. Its ADI is 15 mg/kg/d of body weight by the JECFA (Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives) [28], EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) [29], and ANMAT (National Administration of Drugs, Foods and Medical Devices) [26] (Table 1).

Sucralose is poorly absorbed, undergoes little metabolism, and enters unchanged into the lower gastrointestinal tract, being excreted primarily unchanged in the feces in all species, including humans, and more than 85% of the consumed sucralose reaches the colon [23]. Therefore, sucralose could possibly either alter or change the gut microbiota composition, although it is scarcely metabolized by intestinal bacteria [24].

When evaluating the effects of saccharin and sucralose on the gut microbiota, several aspects must be considered, including the dose used in the studies and the average daily amount consumed by the population and the ADI of these sweeteners. In particular, the ADI is used in many studies on gut microbiota and sweeteners as a reference dose.

As an example of average consumption by a population, we can take the data on sweetener consumption by the Spanish population. In 2020, 0.11 kg/per capita was consumed, which was 26.2% more than in 2019 [35]. This amount represents 0.3 g/p/d of different sweeteners (Table 2).

The ADIs for saccharin and sucralose, according to the JECFA, are 5 mg/kg/day and 15 mg/kg/day, respectively [25,28], which means that a 70 kg subject could consume a maximum of 350 mg of saccharin and 1050 mg sucralose.

Based on this, the average consumption of the Spanish population would not exceed the ADI for either of the two sweeteners, but it should be considered that these are average data and there may be people with higher consumptions that are exceeding the ADI. Thus, evaluating how those doses may impact the microbiota composition is not without relevance.

Table 2

ADI. Mean consumption of sweeteners in the Spanish population.

SaccharinSucralose
ADI mg/kg body wt (JECFA)5 mg/kg15 mg/kg
ADI subject 70 kg350 mg1050 mg
Average consumption of the Spanish population300 mg/day

reference link : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9029443/

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