Saccharin supplementation inhibits bacterial growth and reduces experimental colitis in mice

Annika Sünderhauf, René Pagel, Axel Künstner, Anika E. Wagner, Jan Rupp, Saleh M. Ibrahim, Stefanie Derer, Christian Sina*

*Corresponding author for this work


Non-caloric artificial sweeteners are frequently discussed as components of the “Western diet”, negatively modulating intestinal homeostasis. Since the artificial sweetener saccharin is known to depict bacteriostatic and microbiome-modulating properties, we hypothesized oral saccharin intake to influence intestinal inflammation and aimed at delineating its effect on acute and chronic colitis activity in mice. In vitro, different bacterial strains were grown in the presence or absence of saccharin. Mice were supplemented with saccharin before or after induction of acute or chronic colitis using dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) and the extent of colitis was assessed. Ex vivo, intestinal inflammation, fecal bacterial load and composition were studied by immunohistochemistry analyses, quantitative PCR, 16 S RNA PCR or next generation sequencing in samples collected from analyzed mice. In vitro, saccharin inhibited bacterial growth in a species-dependent manner. In vivo, oral saccharin intake reduced fecal bacterial load and altered microbiome composition, while the intestinal barrier was not obviously affected. Of note, DSS-induced colitis activity was significantly improved in mice after therapeutic or prophylactic treatment with saccharin. Together, this study demonstrates that oral saccharin intake decreases intestinal bacteria count and hence encompasses the capacity to reduce acute and chronic colitis activity in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1122
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17.04.2020

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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