The effects of L-arabinose on intestinal sucrase activity: dose-response studies in vitro and in humans

Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Aug;94(2):472-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.014225. Epub 2011 Jun 15.


Background: On the basis of results in cell cultures, rodents, and pigs, l-arabinose may inhibit intestinal sucrase activity and thereby delay sucrose digestion.

Objective: The objective was to investigate the dose-response effects of l-arabinose on intestinal sucrase activity in vitro and glucose tolerance, appetite, and energy intake in humans.

Design: In vitro, Caco-2 cells were cultured for 21 d, homogenized, and used as an enzyme preparation with sucrose as substrate in concentrations from 7 to 280 mmol/L with 0.84, 1.4, and 2.8 mmol l-arabinose/L as inhibitor. Released glucose was measured after 30 min. In the human studies, 15 healthy men participated in a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Sucrose beverages (75 g in 300 mL) supplemented with 0%, 1.3%, 2.7%, and 4% by weight of l-arabinose were tested at breakfast. Blood for the measurement of glucose, insulin, C-peptide, incretin hormones, and triacylglycerol was collected under fasting conditions and for 3 h postprandially. Postprandial appetite sensations and energy intake at lunch were registered.

Results: In vitro, the addition of l-arabinose resulted in uncompetitive inhibition of sucrase activity. In the human studies, supplementation with 4% l-arabinose produced an 11% lower glucose peak, a 33% lower and delayed insulin peak, a 23% reduction in the incremental area under the curve (iAUC) for insulin, a 23% lower and delayed C-peptide peak, a 9% reduction in the iAUC for C-peptide, a 53% increase in the iAUC for glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and a 28% reduction in the iAUC for glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. No effects on triacylglycerol, gastrointestinal symptoms, appetite ratings, or energy intake were observed.

Conclusions: l-Arabinose inhibits sucrase activity from Caco-2 cells; 4% l-arabinose in sucrose beverages reduces postprandial glucose, insulin, and C-peptide responses and enhances the GLP-1 response in humans without gastrointestinal adverse effects. This trial is registered at as NCT00302302.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabinose / pharmacology*
  • C-Peptide / analysis
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide / blood
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Intestines / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Sucrase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Sucrase / metabolism


  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin
  • Gastric Inhibitory Polypeptide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Arabinose
  • Sucrase

Associated data