Cell Type-Specific Cytotoxicity of Artificial Sweeteners
While studies on the impact of artificial sweeteners on overall human health have been performed, specific studies of how they affect humans on the cellular level have not. Currently, millions of people consume artificial sweeteners every day without knowing the exact repercussions. HepG2 cells, an immortalized liver cancer cell line, and NRK-52E cells, an immortalized normal kidney cell line, have been used to model how these respective organs react to various chemicals in the past. We hypothesized that using these two cell lines, we could propose a model to show the effects of artificial sweeteners on individual cells and their respective bodily functions. The cells were plated and treated for 3 or 6 days with medium containing three of the most prevalent artificial sweeteners, Sucralose, Saccharin, or Ace-K, at varying concentrations, along with a control group being treated with standard medium. After the 3-day treatment, nearly half of the HepG2 had been killed across all concentrations and after 6 days almost all of the HepG2 cells had been killed across all concentrations. However, after 3 days, the NRK-52E cells were continuing to grow with minimal cell death across all concentrations and after 6 days the NRK-52E cells again continued to grow with minimal cell death. These findings were surprising but imply that artificial sweeteners could be a possible treatment for cancer as the artificial sweeteners were shown to kill cancer cells while not killing normal cells. As such, further investigation into the pathway to cell death in HepG2 cells and other cancer cells is warranted.
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