Type of sweet flavour carrier affects thyroid axis activity in male rats

Eur J Nutr. 2018 Mar;57(2):773-782. doi: 10.1007/s00394-016-1367-x. Epub 2016 Dec 31.


Purpose: Non-nutritive sweeteners are the most widely used food additives worldwide. However, their metabolic outcomes are still a matter of controversy and their effect on the thyroid activity, a key regulator of metabolism, has not been previously studied. Therefore, we aim to determine the influence of the sweet type flavour carrier on selected parameters of thyroid axis activity.

Methods: Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 105) were divided into 3 groups fed ad libitum for three weeks isocaloric diets (3.76 ± 0.5 kcal/g): two with the same sweet flavour intensity responded to 10% of sucrose (with sucrose-SC-and sucralose-SU) and one non-sweet diet (NS). To evaluate the post-ingested effects, animals were euthanised at fast and 30, 60, 120, 180 min after meal.

Results: The results obtained indicate that both the presence and the type of sweet taste flavour carrier affect thyroid axis activity both at fasting and postprandial state. Compared to diet with sucrose which stimulates thyroid axis activity, sucralose addition diminishes thyroid hormone synthesis as thyroid peroxidase (TPO) activity, plasma thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3) concentration was lower than in SC and NS while in non-sweet diet the lowest level of hepatic deiodinase type 1 (DIO1) and the highest reverse T3 (rT3) level indicate on altered thyroid hormone peripheral metabolism.

Conclusion: Both the presence and the type of sweet flavour carrier have a significant impact on thyroid axis activity. Our findings suggest that this organochlorine sweetener is metabolically active and might exacerbate metabolic disorders via an adverse effect on thyroid hormone metabolism.

Keywords: Non-nutritive sweeteners; Sucralose; Sucrose; Thyroid hormones.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology
  • Iodide Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners / adverse effects*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Sucrose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Thyroid Gland / enzymology
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyrotropin / metabolism
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Thyroxine / metabolism
  • Toxicity Tests, Subacute
  • Triiodothyronine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / metabolism
  • Weight Gain


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Sucrose
  • Thyrotropin
  • trichlorosucrose
  • iodothyronine deiodinase type I
  • Iodide Peroxidase
  • Thyroxine