Erythritol reduces small intestinal glucose absorption, increases muscle glucose uptake, improves glucose metabolic enzymes activities and increases expression of Glut-4 and IRS-1 in type 2 diabetic rats

Eur J Nutr. 2018 Oct;57(7):2431-2444. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1516-x. Epub 2017 Aug 2.


Purpose: Studies have reported that erythritol, a low or non-glycemic sugar alcohol possesses anti-hyperglycemic and anti-diabetic potentials but the underlying mode of actions is not clear. This study investigated the underlying mode of actions behind the anti-hyperglycemic and anti-diabetic potentials of erythritol using different experimental models (experiment 1, 2 and 3).

Methods: Experiment 1 examined the effects of increasing concentrations (2.5-20%) of erythritol on glucose absorption and uptake in isolated rat jejunum and psoas muscle, respectively. Experiments 2 and 3 examined the effects of a single oral dose of erythritol (1 g/kg bw) on intestinal glucose absorption, gastric emptying and postprandial blood glucose increase, glucose tolerance, serum insulin level, muscle/liver hexokinase and liver glucose-6 phosphatase activities, liver and muscle glycogen contents and mRNA and protein expression of muscle Glut-4 and IRS-1 in normal and type 2 diabetic animals.

Results: Experiment 1 revealed that erythritol dose dependently enhanced muscle glucose ex vivo. Experiment 2 demonstrated that erythritol feeding delayed gastric emptying and reduced small intestinal glucose absorption as well as postprandial blood glucose rise, especially in diabetic animals. Experiment 3 showed that erythritol feeding improved glucose tolerance, muscle/liver hexokinase and liver glucose-6 phosphatase activities, glycogen storage and also modulated expression of muscle Glut-4 and IRS-1 in diabetic animals.

Conclusion: Data suggest that erythritol may exert anti-hyperglycemic effects not only via reducing small intestinal glucose absorption, but also by increasing muscle glucose uptake, improving glucose metabolic enzymes activity and modulating muscle Glut-4 and IRS-1 mRNA and protein expression. Hence, erythritol may be a useful dietary supplement for managing hyperglycemia, particularly for T2D.

Keywords: Erythritol; Glucose absorption; Glucose uptake; Glut-4; IRS-1; Type 2 diabetes (T2D).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Erythritol / pharmacology*
  • Gastrointestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Glucose
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Insulin
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Glucose
  • Erythritol