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Artificial sweeteners are widely used sugar substitutes, but little is known about their long-term effects on cardiometabolic disease risks. Here we examined the commonly used sugar substitute erythritol and atherothrombotic disease risk. In initial untargeted metabolomics studies in patients undergoing cardiac risk assessment (n = 1,157; discovery cohort, NCT00590200 ), circulating levels of multiple polyol sweeteners, especially erythritol, were associated with incident (3 year) risk for major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE; includes death or nonfatal myocardial infarction or stroke). Subsequent targeted metabolomics analyses in independent US (n = 2,149, NCT00590200 ) and European (n = 833, DRKS00020915 ) validation cohorts of stable patients undergoing elective cardiac evaluation confirmed this association (fourth versus first quartile adjusted hazard ratio (95% confidence interval), 1.80 (1.18-2.77) and 2.21 (1.20-4.07), respectively). At physiological levels, erythritol enhanced platelet reactivity in vitro and thrombosis formation in vivo. Finally, in a prospective pilot intervention study ( NCT04731363 ), erythritol ingestion in healthy volunteers (n = 8) induced marked and sustained (>2 d) increases in plasma erythritol levels well above thresholds associated with heightened platelet reactivity and thrombosis potential in in vitro and in vivo studies. Our findings reveal that erythritol is both associated with incident MACE risk and fosters enhanced thrombosis. Studies assessing the long-term safety of erythritol are warranted. © 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.


Marco Witkowski, Ina Nemet, Hassan Alamri, Jennifer Wilcox, Nilaksh Gupta, Nisreen Nimer, Arash Haghikia, Xinmin S Li, Yuping Wu, Prasenjit Prasad Saha, Ilja Demuth, Maximilian König, Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, Tomas Cajka, Oliver Fiehn, Ulf Landmesser, W H Wilson Tang, Stanley L Hazen. The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk. Nature medicine. 2023 Mar;29(3):710-718

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PMID: 36849732

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