Chronic consumption of sugar or sweeteners impairs decision-making behaviors and cerebral monoamine content in mice
Prolonged Consumption of Sweetened Beverages Lastingly Deteriorates Cognitive Functions and Reward Processing in Mice. Héloïse Hamelin, Ghislaine Poizat, Cédrick Florian, Miron Bartosz Kursa, Elsa Pittaras, Jacques Callebert, Claire Rampon, Mohammed Taouis, Adam Hamed, Sylvie Granon.
We investigated the detrimental effects of chronic consumption of sweet or sweetened beverages in mice. We report that consumption of beverages containing small amounts of sucrose during several weeks impaired reward systems. This is evidenced by robust changes in the activation pattern of prefrontal brain regions associated with abnormal risk-taking and delayed establishment of decision-making strategy. Supporting these findings, we find that chronic consumption of low doses of artificial sweeteners such as saccharin disrupts brain regions’ activity engaged in decision-making and reward processes. Consequently, this leads to the rapid development of inflexible decisions, particularly in a subset of vulnerable individuals. Our data also reveal that regular consumption, even at low doses, of sweet or sweeteners dramatically alters brain neurochemistry, i.e., dopamine content and turnover, and high cognitive functions, while sparing metabolic regulations. Our findings suggest that it would be relevant to focus on long-term consequences on the brain of sweet or sweetened beverages in humans, especially as they may go metabolically unnoticed.