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Food Funct. 2015 Mar;6(3):955-62. doi: 10.1039/c4fo00994k.

Effects of xylitol on carbohydrate digesting enzymes activity, intestinal glucose absorption and muscle glucose uptake: a multi-mode study.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville Campus), Durban 4000, South Africa.


The present study investigated the possible mechanism(s) behind the effects of xylitol on carbohydrate digesting enzymes activity, muscle glucose uptake and intestinal glucose absorption using in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo experimental models. The effects of increasing concentrations of xylitol (2.5%-40% or 164.31 mM-2628.99 mM) on alpha amylase and alpha glucosidase activity in vitro and intestinal glucose absorption and muscle glucose uptake were investigated under ex vivo conditions. Additionally, the effects of an oral bolus dose of xylitol (1 g per kg BW) on gastric emptying and intestinal glucose absorption and digesta transit in the different segments of the intestinal tract were investigated in normal and type 2 diabetic rats at 1 hour after dose administration, when phenol red was used as a recovery marker. Xylitol exhibited concentration-dependent inhibition of alpha amylase (IC₅₀ = 1364.04 mM) and alpha glucosidase (IC₅₀ = 1127.52 mM) activity in vitro and small intestinal glucose absorption under ex vivo condition. Xylitol also increased dose dependent muscle glucose uptake with and without insulin, although the uptake was not significantly affected by the addition of insulin. Oral single bolus dose of xylitol significantly delayed gastric emptying, inhibited intestinal glucose absorption but increased the intestinal digesta transit rate in both normal and diabetic rats compared to their respective controls. The data of this study suggest that xylitol reduces intestinal glucose absorption via inhibiting major carbohydrate digesting enzymes, slowing gastric emptying and fastening the intestinal transit rate, but increases muscle glucose uptake in normal and type 2 diabetic rats.

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