Original Contribution

European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 937-948

First online:

Adaptive metabolic response to 4 weeks of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in healthy, lightly active individuals and chronic high glucose availability in primary human myotubes

  • Francesco SartorAffiliated withCollege of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University
  • , Matthew J. JacksonAffiliated withCollege of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University
  • , Cesare SquillaceAffiliated withDiSUAN, University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”
  • , Anthony ShepherdAffiliated withCollege of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University
  • , Jonathan P. MooreAffiliated withCollege of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University
  • , Donald E. AyerAffiliated withDepartment of Oncological Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah
  • , Hans-Peter KubisAffiliated withCollege of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Bangor University Email author 

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Chronic sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Hyperglycaemia contributes to metabolic alterations observed in T2DM, such as reduced oxidative capacity and elevated glycolytic and lipogenic enzyme expressions in skeletal muscle tissue. We aimed to investigate the metabolic alterations induced by SSB supplementation in healthy individuals and to compare these with the effects of chronic hyperglycaemia on primary muscle cell cultures.


Lightly active, healthy, lean subjects (n = 11) with sporadic soft drink consumption underwent a 4-week SSB supplementation (140 ± 15 g/day, ~2 g glucose/kg body weight/day, glucose syrup). Before and after the intervention, body composition, respiratory exchange ratio (RER), insulin sensitivity, muscle metabolic gene and protein expression were assessed. Adaptive responses to hyperglycaemia (7 days, 15 mM) were tested in primary human myotubes.


SSB supplementation increased fat mass (+1.0 kg, P < 0.05), fasting RER (+0.12, P < 0.05), fasting glucose (+0.3 mmol/L, P < 0.05) and muscle GAPDH mRNA expressions (+0.94 AU, P < 0.05). PGC1α mRNA was reduced (−0.20 AU, P < 0.05). Trends were found for insulin resistance (+0.16 mU/L, P = 0.09), and MondoA protein levels (+1.58 AU, P = 0.08). Primary myotubes showed elevations in GAPDH, ACC, MondoA and TXNIP protein expressions (P < 0.05).


Four weeks of SSB supplementation in healthy individuals shifted substrate metabolism towards carbohydrates, increasing glycolytic and lipogenic gene expression and reducing mitochondrial markers. Glucose-sensing protein MondoA might contribute to this shift, although further in vivo evidence is needed to corroborate this.


Soft drinks Insulin resistance PGC1α MondoA TXNIP