Recent data indicate that artificial sweeteners (AS) may have deleterious effects on glucose metabolism. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of AS and the effects of a high fructose diet (HFrD) on glucose metabolism and insulin resistance (IR) in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. SD rats were fed either regular chow, chow with saccharin (Sac) (0.1 mg/mL) placed in their water, or HFrD for seven weeks. Glucose, insulin, and triglycerides (Tg) levels were measured upon completion. A homeostatic model assessment (HOMA)-IR index was used to determine insulin resistance. The liver was stained to detect signs of a fatty liver. Hepatic mRNA expression of glucose metabolism regulation genes, Srepb-1c (sterol regulatory element binding protein) and ChREB (α & β) (carbohydrate response element binding protein), as well as other glycolytic and lipogenic genes including glucose-6-phosphatase (G6pc), were considered IR markers. Both HFrD and Sac significantly increased fasting blood glucose levels compare to the control (140 ± 5 and 137 ± 6 vs. 118 ± 3 mg/dL, respectively, p
< 0.05). However, only HFrD increased insulin secretion (0.99 ± 0.12 vs. 0.7 ± 0.1 and 0.6 ± 0.1 ug/L), Tg levels (420 ± 43 vs. 152 ± 20 and 127 ± 13 mg/dL), and the HOMA-IR index (3.4 ± 0.4 vs. 2.3 ± 0.36 and 2.13 ± 0.3) (HFrD vs. control and sac, p
< 0.05). Fatty liver changes were only observed in HFrD fed rats. The expression of ChREB β, Srepb-1c, and G6pc mRNA were only significantly elevated (between 2–10 times folds, p
< 0.05) in HFrD fed rats. Sac may increase fasting blood glucose but has no effect on liver insulin resistance.
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