Aspartame and Soft Drink-Mediated Neurotoxicity in Rats: Implication of Oxidative Stress, Apoptotic Signaling Pathways, Electrolytes and Hormonal Levels.
Metab Brain Dis. 2017 Jun 28. Epub 2017 Jun 28. PMID: 28660358
Mohamed A Lebda
A significant association between fructose corn syrup in sweetened beverages consumption and increased risk of detrimental central nervous system effects has been recently reported. We hypothesized that the aspartame and soft drink induced disturbances in energy production and endocrine function, which play a role in the induction of brain damage. Therefore, we aimed to assess the effect of aspartame and soft drink on brain function and the link between energy status in the brain, oxidative stress and molecular pathways of apoptosis. Thirty rats were randomly assigned to drink water, aspartame (240 mg/kg orally) and cola soft drinks (free access) daily for two months. Subchronic intake of aspartame and soft drink significantly disrupted the brain energy production, as indicated by inhibited serum and brain creatine kinase, specifically in soft drink-received rats. Moreover, they substantially altered serum electrolytes (increased Ca and Na, and depleted Cu, Fe, Zn and K levels), and accordingly the related hormonal status (increased T4 and PTH, and lowered T3 and aldosterone levels), particularly in soft drink-received rats reflecting brain damage. Additionally, significant increment of acetylcholine esterase activity concomitant with the reduction of antioxidant molecules (SOD, CAT, GSH-Px and GSH), and induction of malondialdehyde level are precisely indicative of oxidative brain damage. Brain mRNA transcripts of target genes showed that aspartame and soft drink induced upregulation of BAX, Casp3, P27 and Mdm2 (1.5-fold) and down-regulation of Bcl2, suggesting an activation of cellular apoptosis. Collectively, subchronic aspartame and soft drink-induced brain damage in rats may be driven via a mechanism that involves energy production disruption, electrolytes and hormonalimbalance, increased oxidative stress and activation of molecular pathway of neuronal apoptosis.