Xylitol improves pancreatic islets morphology to ameliorate type 2 diabetes in rats: a dose response study

J Food Sci. 2014 Jul;79(7):H1436-42. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12520. Epub 2014 Jun 24.


Xylitol has been reported as a potential antidiabetic sweetener in a number of recent studies; however, the most effective dietary dose and organ-specific effects are still unclear. Six-week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into 5 groups: normal control (NC), diabetic control (DBC), diabetic xylitol 2.5% (DXL2.5), diabetic xylitol 5.0% (DXL5), and diabetic xylitol 10.0% (DXL10). Diabetes was induced only in the animals in DBC and DXL groups and considered diabetic when their nonfasting blood glucose level was >300 mg/dL. The DXL groups were fed with 2.5%, 5.0%, and 10% xylitol solution, whereas the NC and DBC groups were supplied with normal drinking water. After 4-wk intervention, body weight, food and fluid intake, blood glucose, serum fructosamine, liver glycogen, serum alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, lactate dehydrogenase, creatine kinase, uric acid, creatinine, and most serum lipids were significantly decreased, and serum insulin concentration, glucose tolerance ability, and pancreatic islets morphology were significantly improved in the DXL10 group compared to the DBC group. The data of this study suggest that 10% xylitol has the better antidiabetic effects compared to 2.5% and 5.0% and it can be used as an excellent antidiabetic sweetener and food supplement in antidiabetic foods.

Practical application: Xylitol is widely used as a potential anticariogenic and sweetening agent in a number of oral care and food products when many of its health benefits are still unknown. Due to its similar sweetening power but lower calorific value (2.5 compared with 4 kcal) and lower glycemic index (13 compared with 65) compared to sucrose, recently it has been widely used as a sugar substitute particularly by overweight, obese, and diabetic patients in order to reduce their calorie intake from sucrose. However, the potential antidiabetic effects of xylitol have been discovered recently. The results of this study confirmed the effective dietary dose of xylitol for diabetics with some of the mechanisms of actions behind its antidiabetic effects.

Keywords: dose response; rats; sugar substitute; sweeteners; type 2 diabetes; xylitol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Weight
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Liver Glycogen
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Xylitol / therapeutic use*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Liver Glycogen
  • Xylitol