[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Artificial sweeteners are low-calorie substances used to sweeten a wide variety of foods. At present they are used increasingly not only by diabetics, but also by the general public as a mean of controlling the weight. This study was carried out to evaluate and compare antinociceptive activity of the artificial sweeteners, aspartame and sucrose and to study the mechanisms involved in this analgesic activity.
Forty eight white albino Wistar rats were divided into two groups of 24 rats each. Group 1 received sucrose and group 2 received aspartame solution ad libitum for 14 days as their only source of liquid. On 14(th) day, both groups of rats were divided into 3 subgroups having 8 rats each. Group Ia and IIa served as control. Group Ib and IIb were given naloxone and Ic and IIc received ketanserin, the opioid and serotonergic receptor antagonists, respectively.
Tail withdrawal latencies (tail flick analgesiometer) and paw licking/jumping latencies (Eddy's hot plate method) were increased significantly in both aspartame and sucrose group. The analgesia produced by aspartame was comparable with sucrose. The opioid receptor antagonist naloxone and the 5-HT(2A/2C) serotonergic receptor antagonist ketanserin partly reversed the antinociceptive effect of these sweeteners.
Thus, the artificial sweetening agent aspartame showed antinociceptive activity like sucrose in rats. Reduction in antinociceptive activity of aspartame and sucrose by opioid and serotoninergic antagonists demonstrate the involvement of both opioid and serotonergic system.