The in vitro Effects of Low Calories Sweeteners on Angiogenesis in Human Endothelial Vascular Cells
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The global effort to reduce the prevalence of obesity has seen many dietary interventions to try and reduce caloric intake. In recent years, there has been a surge in the consumption of low calorie sweeteners such as aspartame primarily through low calorie carbonated beverages. The popularity of these products is a result of their hyperpalatability and low caloric content, however there appears to be a consistent emergence of research suggesting that these low-calorie sweeteners are potentially harmful, even at the recommended dosages. Recently, research has shown aspartame to enhance angiogenesis, a physiological process that acts to increase the formation of new blood vessels. In health, this process remains inactive but in pathological conditions such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis there are deviations from homeostasis resulting in aberrant angiogenesis. The negative health claims surrounding aspartame has resulted in an increased interest and popularity in naturally sourced low calorie sweeteners such as stevia, which is derived from the leaves of a bush indigenous to South America. This compound has been shown to possess a multitude of health benefits and has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years. To examine the effect of these sweeteners on angiogenesis, human endothelial vascular cells were treated with either aspartame, stevia or a combination of both sweeteners. Using a in vitro assay of micro-tube formation, it was demonstrated that stevia significantly reduced the formation of endothelial vessels in comparison to the control whilst aspartame showed no significant differences. Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction indicated that aspartame significantly increased VEGF expression, whilst stevia produced results that were not significantly different to the control. Interestingly, combined treatment resulted in a significant increase in VEGF expression with regards to the control was significantly less than the aspartame treated samples. The results of the present study therefore provide further evidence regarding aspartame as a pro-angiogenic compound whilst highlighting a novel anti-angiogenic naturally occurring low calorie sweetener. Further research in in vivo models is required to further elucidate the pathological implications of these compounds.
BSc Biomedical Sciences (Health, Excercise & Nutrition)
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