Abstract Title:

Non-caloric artificial sweeteners exhibit antimicrobial activity against bacteria and promote bacterial evolution of antibiotic tolerance.

Abstract Source:

J Hazard Mater. 2022 Apr 4 ;433:128840. Epub 2022 Apr 4. PMID: 35398799

Abstract Author(s):

Zhigang Yu, Jianhua Guo

Article Affiliation:

Zhigang Yu


Non-caloric artificial sweeteners are being widely used as safe table sugar substitutes with highly intensive sweetness but low calories. Previous studies have suggested that some of the sweeteners can alter the gut microbiota composition and promote horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes across bacterial genera. However, little is known about whether these sweeteners could show antibiotic-like antimicrobial activity against bacteria, especially gut relevant bacteria. Whether they could affect evolutional trajectory of antibiotic resistance or tolerance in bacteria is also not clear yet. Here we investigated four commonly used artificial sweeteners (saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium) against both Gram-negative (Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae) and positive (Bacillus subtilis) strains. Results show that all four sweeteners exhibit antimicrobial effects on these strains. The antimicrobial mechanism is due to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cell envelope damage. Compared to sucrose and glucose, the treatment of artificial sweeteners stimulates bacterial efflux pumps and promotes bacterial evolution of antibiotic tolerance. Collectively, our finding provides insights into roles of artificial sweeteners in the emergence of antibiotic tolerance and calls for a re-evaluation of risks due to their intensive usage.

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Sayer Ji
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