BREAKING NEWS! Study Finds That Sucralose, An Artificial Sweetener, Disrupts The Immune System By Decreasing Activation Of T Cells!
: A groundbreaking study from the Francis Crick Institute has found that consuming large amounts of sucralose, a widely used artificial sweetener, can lead to decreased activation of T cells in mice.
The study findings showed that the intake of high doses of sucralose in mice results in immunomodulatory effects by limiting T cell proliferation and T cell differentiation. In terms of the underlying mechanisms, sucralose affects the membrane order of T cells, accompanied by a reduced efficiency of T cell receptor signaling and intracellular calcium mobilization. Mice administered sucralose exhibit decreased CD8+ T cell antigen-specific responses in subcutaneous cancer models and bacterial infection models, as well as impaired T cell functionality in scenarios involving T cell-driven autoimmunity. In summary, the study findings indicate that significant sucralose consumption can weaken T cell-mediated reactions which is bad in scenarios involving infections or cancer but is a potential therapeutic approach for managing T cell-associated autoimmune conditions.
T cells play a very critical role in the immune system in terms of fighting infections and cancer and hence plays a crucial role in maintaining our health.
The study team is further exploring if similar effects are observed in humans and if so, the implications could be worrisome as sucralose in used extensively in many beverages and processed foods and even in bakeries and restaurants!
But on a positive note, if the effects in mice are similar to that in humans, sucralose could potentially be utilized as a therapeutic agent to suppress T-cell responses, which could be beneficial for individuals with autoimmune diseases who suffer from uncontrolled T-cell activation.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener approximately 600 times sweeter than sugar, extensively used in drinks and food especially in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe. The effects of sucralose on the body have not been fully understood, although recent studies have shown that sucralose can impact human health by affecting the microbiome.
In the study funded by Cancer Research UK, the study team 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 European and American food safety authorities.
The mice fed diets containing high doses of sucralose showed a reduced ability to activate T cells in response to cancer or infection. Interestingly, no effect was seen on other types of immune cells.
By studying T cells in more detail, the study team discovered that a high dose of sucralose impacted intracellular calcium release in response to stimulation, which in turn dampened T-cell function.
The study finding raises alarm bells for those wanting to maintain a healthy immune system or recover from disease, as sucralose is found extensively in most of the foods and beverages found in supermarkets and delis. While the study involved mice, animal models using mice in medical research in most cases typically reflect what is happening in humans as well.
While the potential danger of sucralose is being explored, the study team hopes the findings could lead to a new way of using much higher therapeutic doses of sucralose in patients with auto-immune issues. This idea is supported by the o
bservation that when mice with T cell-mediated autoimmune disease were given a high-dose sucralose diet, it helped to mitigate the harmful effects of their overactive T cells.
Dr Karen Vousden, senior author and principal group leader at the Crick, told Health News
reporters at TMN, “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."
She further added, “More research is needed to determine 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.”
Dr Fabio Zani, co-first author and postdoctoral training fellow at the Crick, added, “While 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, we hope the study findings would pave the way for new therapeutic to deal with autoimmune issues"
Dr 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 strategies for certain autoimmune diseases. However, it's important to remember that these findings are based on experiments in mice and we need further research to understand if similar effects could be seen in humans. It is too early to say whether sucralose could be used in this way for patients, but these results are an interesting starting point for future studies.”
The study team are now planning further studies to investigate the effects of sucralose on different cell types and to explore whether other artificial sweeteners have similar effects on the immune system.
They are also interested in determining if these findings could be used to develop new treatments for autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, by using therapeutic doses of sucralose to suppress T-cell activation in patients.
In conclusion, this study provides new insights into the potential effects of sucralose on the immune system, particularly in relation to T-cell function. While it's important to remember that these findings are based on experiments in mice and more research is needed to understand the implications for humans, it's an exciting first step towards potentially harnessing the effects of sucralose as a therapeutic agent for autoimmune diseases.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Nature.
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