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The effect of aspartame metabolites on human erythrocyte membrane acetylcholinesterase activity.

Department of Experimental Physiology, Medical School, University of Athens, Greece.
Pharmacological Research (Impact Factor: 3.98). 02/2006; 53(1):1-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.phrs.2005.07.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Studies have implicated aspartame (ASP) with neurological problems. The aim of this study was to evaluate acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in human erythrocyte membranes after incubation with the sum of ASP metabolites, phenylalanine (Phe), methanol (met) and aspartic acid (aspt), or with each one separately. Erythrocyte membranes were obtained from 12 healthy individuals and were incubated with ASP hydrolysis products for 1 h at 37 degrees C. AChE was measured spectrophotometrically. Incubation of membranes with ASP metabolites corresponding with 34 mg/kg, 150 mg/kg or 200 mg/kg of ASP consumption resulted in an enzyme activity reduction by -33%, -41%, and -57%, respectively. Met concentrations 0.14 mM, 0.60 mM, and 0.80 mM decreased the enzyme activity by -20%, -32% or -40%, respectively. Aspt concentrations 2.80 mM, 7.60 mM or 10.0 mM inhibited membrane AChE activity by -20%, -35%, and -47%, respectively. Phe concentrations 0.14 mM, 0.35 mM or 0.50mM reduced the enzyme activity by -11%, -33%, and -35%, respectively. Aspt or Phe concentrations 0.82 mM or 0.07 mM, respectively, did not alter the membrane AChE activity. It is concluded that low concentrations of ASP metabolites had no effect on the membrane enzyme activity, whereas high or toxic concentrations partially or remarkably decreased the membrane AChE activity, respectively. Additionally, neurological symptoms, including learning and memory processes, may be related to the high or toxic concentrations of the sweetener metabolites.

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