The role of the gut flora in the metabolism of cyclamate

Biochem J. 1972 Oct;129(4):881-90. doi: 10.1042/bj1290881.


1. [(14)C]Cyclamate was not metabolized when incubated with the liver, spleen, kidney or blood of rats of rabbits kept on a cyclamate-containing diet, and that had become converters of cyclamate into cyclohexylamine. 2. [(14)C]Cyclamate was converted into cyclohexylamine when incubated under anaerobic conditions with the contents of the caecum, colon or rectum or with the faeces of cyclamate-pretreated rats. Similar results were obtained with cyclamate-pretreated rabbits. With cyclamate-pretreated guinea pigs, which did not readily convert cyclamate into cyclohexylamine, the colon contents showed only low activity in this respect. 3. The faeces of a human converter of [(14)C]cyclamate into cyclohexylamine were also very active, but became less active when cyclamate was removed from his diet. 4. On subculturing the organisms from the contents of the colon and rectum of rats, the ability to convert cyclamate into cyclohexylamine was lost during three subcultures, but the loss of the activity was considerably decreased by subculturing in the presence of cyclamate. 5. Incubation of rat faeces in broths containing cyclamate increased their ability to metabolize cyclamate, but similar treatment of rabbit and human faeces suppressed this activity. 6. When rats are kept on a cyclamate diet the number of clostridia in the faeces increased considerably. In human dietary cyclamate did not appear to alter the counts of various faecal micro-organisms. 7. The gut organisms that appear to develop the ability to convert cyclamate into cyclohexylamine are clostridia in rats, enterobacteria in rabbits and enterococci in man. 8. [(14)C]Cyclohexylamine injected into the caecum or colon of rats is readily absorbed and excreted in the urine. 9. It appears that on continued intake of cyclamate the gut flora develop the ability to convert cyclamate into cyclohexylamine, which is then absorbed and excreted mainly in the urine, although a small proportion is metabolized to other compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood / metabolism
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Cecum / metabolism
  • Clostridium / drug effects
  • Clostridium / isolation & purification
  • Cyclamates / metabolism*
  • Cyclohexylamines / metabolism
  • Cyclohexylamines / urine
  • Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification
  • Feces / analysis
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Large / metabolism
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Spleen / metabolism
  • Stomach / microbiology


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Cyclamates
  • Cyclohexylamines