Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is a known independent risk factor for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Non-caloric sweeteners (NCS) are food additives providing sweetness without calories and are considered safe and/or not metabolized by the liver.
The potential role of newer NCS in the regulation of NASH, however, remain unknown. Our study aimed to determine the impact of newer NCS including Rebaudioside A and sucralose on NASH using high fat diet induced obesity mouse model by substituting fructose and sucrose with NCS in the drinking water.
We characterized the phenotype of NCS- treated obesity and investigated the alterations of hepatic function and underlying mechanisms. We found that NCS have no impact on weight gain and energy balance in high fat diet induced obesity. However, in comparison to fructose and sucrose, Rebaudioside A significantly improved liver enzymes, hepatic steatosis and hepatic fibrosis.
Additionally, Rebaudioside A improved endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress related gene expressions, fasting glucose levels, insulin sensitivity and restored pancreatic islet cell mass, neuronal innervation and microbiome composition. We concluded that Rebaudioside A significantly ameliorated murine NASH, while the underlying mechanisms requires further investigation.