British Journal of Nutrition

Nutritional Endocrinology

Effects of carbohydrate sugars and artificial sweeteners on appetite and the secretion of gastrointestinal satiety peptides

Robert E. Steinerta1 c1, Florian Freya1, Antonia Töpfera1, Jürgen Drewea1 and Christoph Beglingera1

a1 Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Biomedicine, Clinical Research Center, University Hospital Basel, CH-4031 Basel, Switzerland


In vitro, both carbohydrate sugars and artificial sweeteners (AS) stimulate the secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). It has been suggested that the gut tastes sugars and AS through the same mechanisms as the tongue, with potential effects on gut hormone release. We investigated whether the human gut responds in the same way to AS and carbohydrate sugars, which are perceived by lingual taste as equisweet. We focused on the secretion of gastrointestinal (GI) satiety peptides in relation to appetite perception. We performed a placebo-controlled, double-blind, six-way, cross-over trial including twelve healthy subjects. On separate days, each subject received an intragastric infusion of glucose, fructose or an AS (aspartame, acesulfame K and sucralose) dissolved in 250 ml of water or water only (control). In a second part, four subjects received an intragastric infusion of the non-sweet, non-metabolisable sugar analogue 2-deoxy-d-glucose. Glucose stimulated GLP-1 (P = 0·002) and peptide tyrosine tyrosine (PYY; P = 0·046) secretion and reduced fasting plasma ghrelin (P = 0·046), whereas fructose was less effective. Both carbohydrate sugars increased satiety and fullness (albeit not significantly) compared with water. In contrast, equisweet loads of AS did not affect gastrointestinal peptide secretion with minimal effects on appetite. 2-Deoxy-d-glucose increased hunger ratings, however, with no effects on GLP-1, PYY or ghrelin. Our data demonstrate that the secretion of GLP-1, PYY and ghrelin depends on more than the detection of (1) sweetness or (2) the structural analogy to glucose.

(Received May 25 2010)

(Revised November 09 2010)

(Accepted November 10 2010)

(Online publication January 24 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: R. E. Steinert, fax +41 612655352, email


Abbreviations: 2DG, 2-deoxy-d-glucose; AS, artificial sweetener; AUC, area under the plasma concentration–time curve; GI, gastrointestinal; GIP, glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide; GLP-1, glucagon-like peptide-1; PYY, peptide tyrosine tyrosine