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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #368570

Research Project: In Vitro Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem: Effects of Diet

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

Title: Impact of steviol glycosides and erythritol on the human and Cebus apella gut microbiome

item Mahalak, Karley
item Firrman, Jenni
item Tomasula, Peggy
item Nunez, Alberto
item LEE, JUNG-JIN - University Of Pennsylvania
item BITTINGER, KYLE - University Of Pennsylvania
item RINALDI, WILLIAM - Alpha Genesis Incorporated
item Liu, Linshu

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/23/2019
Publication Date: 12/23/2019
Citation: Mahalak, K.K., Firrman, J., Tomasula, M.M., Nunez, A., Lee, J., Bittinger, K., Rinaldi, W., Liu, L.S. 2019. Impact of steviol glycosides and erythritol on the human and Cebus apella gut microbiome. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Pages A-I.

Interpretive Summary: Stevia is a popular choice as a low-calorie sweetener by consumers following plant-based or low carbohydrate diets. It is also considered a natural sweetener because the compounds that deliver sweetness, steviol glycosides (SGs), are extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant using water or ethanol, and then dried. Stevia is too sweet for use in beverages or foods, so it is usually combined with erythritol. Upon intake, the SGs passes through the stomach and small intestine unchanged, but little information is available on the fate of SGs when they encounter the gut (or colonic) bacteria. In this primary study, we examined the interactions of the SGs with or without erythritol with a few of the human gut bacteria, a human gut community model and a capuchin monkey model. Confirming other studies, negative effects of the SGs or the erythritol on the bacteria in any of the models were not observed.

Technical Abstract: The extracts of Stevia rebaudiana leaves, composed of about ten steviol glycosides, are used in non-nutritive, table sugar alternatives due to their high level of sweetness compared to sucrose and their low caloric impact. They are often combined with the sugar alcohol, erythritol, to modulate the sweetness. Little is known of the impact of sugar alternatives on the human gut microbiota in terms of the diversity, composition, and metabolic products. In vitro testing of steviol glycosides using five representatives of the gut microbiota found no impact on bacterial growth, yet the combination of stevia extract and erythritol resulted in an enhancement of butyric and pentanoic acid production when tested using a human gut microbial community. Furthermore, administration of stevia extract and erythritol to a Cebus apella model resulted in changes to the gut microbial structure and diversity. In general, the study did not find any negative impacts of stevia and erythritol on the gut microbial community.