Long-term consumption of aspartame and brain antioxidant defense status

Drug Chem Toxicol. 2013 Apr;36(2):135-40. doi: 10.3109/01480545.2012.658403. Epub 2012 Mar 2.


The present study investigated the effect of long-term intake of aspartame, a widely used artificial sweetener, on antioxidant defense status in the rat brain. Male Wistar rats weighing 150-175 g were randomly divided into three groups as follows: The first group was given aspartame at a dose of 500 mg/kg body weight (b.w.); the second group was given aspartame at dose of 1,000 mg/kg b.w., respectively, in a total volume of 3 mL of water; and the control rats received 3 mL of distilled water. Oral intubations were done in the morning, daily for 180 days. The concentration of reduced glutathione (GSH) and the activity of glutathione reductase (GR) were significantly reduced in the brain of rats that had received the dose of 1,000 mg/kg b.w. of aspartame, whereas only a significant reduction in GSH concentration was observed in the 500-mg/kg b.w. aspartame-treated group. Histopathological examination revealed mild vascular congestion in the 1,000 mg/kg b.w. group of aspartame-treated rats. The results of this experiment indicate that long-term consumption of aspartame leads to an imbalance in the antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain, mainly through the mechanism involving the glutathione-dependent system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Aspartame / administration & dosage
  • Aspartame / toxicity*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Reductase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Sweetening Agents / toxicity*
  • Time Factors


  • Antioxidants
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Glutathione Reductase
  • Glutathione
  • Aspartame