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Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 121–128 | Cite as

Acute effects of aspartame on systolic blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats

  • P. J. Kiritsy
  • T. J. Mäher
Original Papers

Summary

Exogenous tyrosine lowers blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). The artificial sweetener aspartame also elevates blood and brain tyrosine levels in rats by being hydrolyzed to phenylalanine, which is then rapidly hydroxylated to tyrosine in the liver. Hence we tested the ability of aspartame; its hydrolytic products phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol; and of tyrosine itself to lower blood pressure in SHR. For one week prior to experimentation rats were acclimated to the indirect blood pressure measurement technique; on the day of an experiment they received I.P. injections (mg/kg) of aspartame (12.5–200), tyrosine (25–200) or phenylalanine (100–200), or of aspartic acid or methanol in the doses theoretically contained within 200 mg/kg aspartame. Animals receiving 50, 100 or 200 mg/kg of aspartame exhibited maximum falls in blood pressure of 17.3, 24.2 and 19.3 mmHg, respectively. All changes were significant, as determined by ANOVA and the Newman-Keuls test (p<0.05). Tyrosine or phenylalanine also lowered blood pressure, but aspartic acid or methanol produced no significant effects. Co-administration of aspartame with valine, a large neutral amino acid that competes with phenylalanine or tyrosine for brain uptake, attenuated aspartame's hypotensive effect. These observations suggest that the neurochemical changes produced by aspartame lead to predicted tyrosine-induced changes in blood pressure.

Key words

Aspartame blood pressure SHR tyrosine hypertension brain 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Kiritsy
    • 1
  • T. J. Mäher
    • 1
  1. 1.Neuropharmacology Laboratory, Department of PharmacologyMassachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health ScienceBostonUSA

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