Cognitive and biochemical effects of monosodium glutamate and aspartame, administered individually and in combination in male albino mice

Neurotoxicol Teratol. Mar-Apr 2014;42:60-7. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2014 Feb 18.


The present study was designed to investigate the in vivo effects of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame (ASM) individually and in combination on the cognitive behavior and biochemical parameters like neurotransmitters and oxidative stress indices in the brain tissue of mice. Forty male Swiss albino mice were randomly divided into four groups of ten each and were exposed to MSG and ASM through drinking water for one month. Group I was the control and was given normal tap water. Groups II and III received MSG (8 mg/kg) and ASM (32 mg/kg) respectively dissolved in tap water. Group IV received MSG and ASM together in the same doses. After the exposure period, the animals were subjected to cognitive behavioral tests in a shuttle box and a water maze. Thereafter, the animals were sacrificed and the neurotransmitters and oxidative stress indices were estimated in their forebrain tissue. Both MSG and ASM individually as well as in combination had significant disruptive effects on the cognitive responses, memory retention and learning capabilities of the mice in the order (MSG+ASM)>ASM>MSG. Furthermore, while MSG and ASM individually were unable to alter the brain neurotransmitters and the oxidative stress indices, their combination dose (MSG+ASM) decreased significantly the levels of neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) and it also caused oxidative stress by increasing the lipid peroxides measured in the form of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) and decreasing the level of total glutathione (GSH). Further studies are required to evaluate the synergistic effects of MSG and ASM on the neurotransmitters and oxidative stress indices and their involvement in cognitive dysfunctions.

Keywords: Aspartame; Brain neurotransmitters; Brain oxidative stress; Cognitive behavior; Male mice; Monosodium glutamate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aspartame / administration & dosage
  • Aspartame / toxicity*
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Drug Synergism
  • Flavoring Agents / administration & dosage
  • Flavoring Agents / toxicity*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / administration & dosage
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / toxicity
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Sodium Glutamate / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Glutamate / toxicity*
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / metabolism


  • Flavoring Agents
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Serotonin
  • Glutathione
  • Dopamine
  • Sodium Glutamate
  • Aspartame