Artificial sweeteners can make gut bacteria sick and invade the gut wall

Artificial sweeteners can make gut bacteria sick and invade the gut wall

A new study , published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences , is the first to suggest pathogenic effects of some of the most widely used artificial sweeteners (saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame) on two types of gut bacteria, E. coli (Escherichia coli) and E. faecalis (Enterococcus faecalis).

Using common sweeteners, then, could make these intestinal bacteria sick, causing them to invade the intestinal wall, which could lead to serious health problems . In other words, these changes could lead to our own gut bacteria invading and causing damage to our gut, which may be related to infections, sepsis, and multi-organ failure.


Bacteria such as E. faecalis that cross the intestinal wall are known to enter the bloodstream and congregate in the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen, causing a number of infections, including septicemia . This new study thus suggests that at a concentration equivalent to two cans of diet soda, artificial sweeteners significantly increased the adhesion of E. coli and E. faecalis to intestinal Caco-2 cells and differentially increased biofilm formation.

Bacteria that grow in biofilms are less sensitive to antimicrobial resistance treatment and are more likely to secrete toxins and express virulence factors, which are molecules that can cause disease . Additionally, the sweeteners caused pathogenic gut bacteria to invade Caco-2 cells found in the gut wall, with the exception of saccharin which had no significant effect on E. coli invasion.

According to the study authors:

We know that excessive sugar consumption is an important factor in the development of conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Therefore, it is important that we increase our knowledge about sweeteners versus sugars in the diet to better understand the impact on our health.