(Press-News.org) Francis Crick Institute press release
Under strict embargo: 16:00hrs GMT Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Animals / Cells
Artificial Sweetener could dampen immune response to disease in mice
Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have found that high consumption of a common artificial sweetener, sucralose, lowers activation of T-cells, an important component of the immune system, in mice.
If found to have similar effects in humans, one day it could be used therapeutically to help dampen T-cell responses. For example, in patients with autoimmune diseases who suffer from uncontrolled T cell activation.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener, about 600 times sweeter than sugar, that is commonly used in drinks and food. Like many other artificial sweeteners, the effects of sucralose on the body are not yet fully understood, although recent studies have shown that sucralose can impact human health by affecting the microbiome.
In their study, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Nature today (date), the researchers tested the impact of sucralose on the immune system in mice.
Mice were fed sucralose at levels equivalent to the acceptable daily intake recommended by the European and American food safety authorities. Importantly, while these doses are achievable, they would not normally be reached by people simply consuming food or drinks containing sweeteners as part of a normal diet.
The mice fed diets containing high doses of sucralose were less able to activate T cells in response to cancer or infection. No effect was seen on other types of immune cells.
By studying T cells in more detail, the researchers found that a high-dose of sucralose impacted intracellular calcium release in response to stimulation, and therefore dampened T -cell function.
This research should not sound alarm bells for those wanting to ensure they have a healthy immune system or recover from disease, as humans consuming normal or even moderately elevated levels of sucralose would not be exposed to the levels achieved in this study.
Instead, the researchers hope the findings could lead to a new way of using much higher therapeutic doses of sucralose in patients, building on the observation that when mice with T cell mediated autoimmune disease were given a high-dose sucralose diet, this helped to mitigate the harmful effects of their over active T cells.
Karen Vousden, senior author and principal group leader at the Crick, says: “We’re hoping to piece together a bigger picture of the effects of diet on health and disease, so that one day we can advise on diets that are best suited to individual patients, or find elements of our diet that doctors can exploit for treatment.
“More research and studies are needed to see whether these effects of sucralose in mice can be reproduced in humans. If these initial findings hold up in people, they could one day offer a way to limit some of the harmful effects of autoimmune conditions.”
Fabio Zani, co-first author and postdoctoral training fellow at the Crick, adds: “We do not want people to take away the message that sucralose is harmful if consumed in the course of a normal balanced diet, as the doses we used in mice would be very hard to achieve without medical intervention.
“The impact on the immune system we observed seems reversible and we believe it may be worth studying if sucralose could be used to ameliorate conditions such as autoimmunity, especially in combinational therapies.”
Julianna Blagih, co-first author and former postdoctoral training fellow at the Crick (now Assistant Professor at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre, University of Montreal), explains: “We’ve shown that a commonly used sweetener, sucralose, is not a completely inert molecule and we have uncovered an unexpected effect on the immune system. We are keen to explore whether there are other cell types or processes that are similarly affected by this sweetener.”
Karis Betts, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “This study begins to explore how high doses of sucralose could potentially be used in new treatment options for patients, but it’s still early days.
“The results of this study don’t show harmful effects of sucralose for humans so you don’t need to think about changing your diet to avoid it.”
The researchers are continuing this work and are hoping to run trials to test if sucralose has a similar effect in humans.
For further information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)20 3796 5252
Notes to Editors
Reference: Zani, F. et al. (2022). The dietary sweetener sucralose is a negative modulator of T-cell-mediated responses. Nature. doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-05801-6.
The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.
An independent organisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King’s College London.
The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into a brand new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.
A pioneering global study has found deforestation and forests lost or damaged due to human and environmental change, such as fire and logging, are fast outstripping current rates of forest regrowth.
Tropical forests are vital ecosystems in the fight against both climate and ecological emergencies. The research, published today in Nature and led by the University of Bristol, highlights the carbon storage potential and the current limits of forest regrowth to addressing such crises.
The findings showed degraded forests recovering from human disturbances, and secondary forests regrowing ...
Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center showed that inhibiting menin with revumenib, previously known as SNDX-5613, yielded encouraging responses for advanced acute leukemias with KMT2A rearrangements or mutant NPM1. Findings from the Phase I AUGMENT-101 trial were published today in Nature.
The overall response rate among 60 patients was 53%, and the rate of complete remission or complete remission with partial hematologic recovery was 30%, with 78% of patients achieving clearance of measurable residual disease. Responses were seen across multiple dose ...
Researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was associated with the deaths of more than 330 New England harbor and gray seals along the North Atlantic coast in June and July 2022, and the outbreak was connected to a wave of avian influenza in birds in the region.
The study was published on March 15 in the journal Emerging Infectious Disease.
HPAI is more commonly known as bird flu, and the H5N1 strain has been responsible for about 60 million poultry ...
In a step forward for genetic engineering and synthetic biology, researchers have modified a strain of Escherichia coli bacteria to be immune to natural viral infections while also minimizing the potential for the bacteria or their modified genes to escape into the wild.
The work promises to reduce the threats of viral contamination when harnessing bacteria to produce medicines such as insulin as well as other useful substances, such as biofuels. Currently, viruses that infect vats of bacteria can halt production, compromise ...
Scientists at EPFL and IBM have developed a new type of laser that could have a significant impact on optical ranging technology. The laser is based on a material called lithium niobate, often used in the field of optical modulators, which controls the frequency or intensity of light that is transmitted through a device.
Lithium niobate is particularly useful because it can handle a lot of optical power and has a high “Pockels coefficient”, which means that it can change its optical properties when an electric field is applied to it.
The researchers achieved their breakthrough by combining ...
A single cell contains 2-3 meters of DNA, meaning that the only way to store it is to package it into tight coils. The solution is chromatin: a complex of DNA wrapped around proteins called histones. In the 3D space, this complex is progressively folded into a multi-layered organization composed of loops, domains, and compartments, which makes up what we know as chromosomes. The organization of chromatin is closely linked to gene expression and the cell’s proper function, so any problems in chromatin structure can have detrimental effects, including the development of cancer.
A common event in around 30% of all human cancers is “whole genome doubling” ...
NEW YORK – For a functioning brain to develop from its embryonic beginnings, so much has to happen and go exactly right with exquisite precision, according to a just-so sequence in space and time. It’s like starting with a brick that somehow replicates and differentiates into a hundred types of building materials that also replicate, while simultaneously self-assembling into a handsome skyscraper replete with functioning thermal, plumbing, security and electrical systems.
The accompanying microscope image, from ...
A team of chemical engineering researchers has developed a self-driven lab that is capable of identifying and optimizing new complex multistep reaction routes for the synthesis of advanced functional materials and molecules. In a proof-of-concept demonstration, the system found a more efficient way to produce high-quality semiconductor nanocrystals that are used in optical and photonic devices.
“Progress in materials and molecular discovery is slow, because conventional techniques for discovering new chemistries rely on varying ...
National and global plans to combat climate change include increasing the electrification of vehicles and the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources. But some projections show that these trends might require costly new power plants to meet peak loads in the evening when cars are plugged in after the workday. What’s more, overproduction of power from solar farms during the daytime can waste valuable electricity-generation capacity.
In a new study, MIT researchers have found that it’s possible to mitigate or eliminate both these problems without the need for ...
About The Study: In this case-control study of COVID-19 vaccines and illness, vaccine effectiveness associated with protection against medically attended COVID-19 illness was lower with increasing time since last dose; estimated vaccine effectiveness was higher after receipt of one or two booster doses compared with a primary series alone.
Authors: Ruth Link-Gelles, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Response Team in Atlanta, is the corresponding ...