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Food Chem Toxicol. 1991 Feb;29(2):101-6.

Interspecies and interstrain studies on the increased susceptibility to metrazol-induced convulsions in animals given aspartame.

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Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy.


The ability of aspartame (APM) to increase the susceptibility to metrazol-induced convulsions was studied in two strains of mice (CD1 and DBA/2J) and in guinea-pigs. Rats were included as known positive controls. Plasma and brain levels of phenylalanine (Phe) and tyrosine (Tyr) were measured in CD1 mice and guinea-pigs at various intervals after a dose of 1 g APM/kg body weight (administered orally to mice and ip to guinea-pigs). In mice, peak levels of Phe and Tyr were observed in plasma after 30 min and in brain after 60 min. In guinea-pigs peak plasma levels of Phe and Tyr occurred 30 min after treatment. Phe was at a maximum in guinea-pig brain after 30 min, while Tyr levels reached a peak at 120 min. In further experiments Phe and Tyr levels were measured 1 hr after APM doses of 0.5, 0.75 or 1 g/kg. In CD1 mice, plasma Phe and Tyr levels were increased significantly only at the highest dose, whereas in brain, Tyr concentrations were significantly increased by 0.75 or 1 g APM/kg and Phe was significantly increased by all three doses. In the guinea-pig, plasma Phe and Tyr were increased significantly only by 1 g APM/kg and in brain this dose significantly raised only the Phe levels. Monoamine and metabolite levels were determined in the brain striata of CD1 and DBA/2J mice 1 hr after the oral administration of 1 or 2 g APM/kg body weight; no differences from control values were found in either strain. The studies of potentiation of metrazol-induced convulsions showed that APM, at doses of up to 2 g/kg body weight, had no such effect in mice or guinea-pigs. In contrast, as expected, the potentiation was significant in the rat at 1 g/kg.

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