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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 1996 Oct;24(2 Pt 2):S221-31.

Subchronic oral toxicity studies with erythritol in mice and rats.

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TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The Netherlands.

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  • Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1997 Apr;25(2):197.


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (polyol) with potential applications as a low-calorie, bulk sweetener. Ingested erythritol is efficiently absorbed and excreted unchanged via the urine since it is not metabolized systemically by the animal or human body. Erythritol was administered to four groups of 10 male and 10 female Swiss CD-1 mice and four groups of 15 male Wistar Crl:(WI) WU BR rats at dietary levels of 0, 5, 10, or 20% for 90 days. A fifth group of rats received a diet containing 20% erythritol on a time-restricted basis (6 hr/day), and a sixth group received a diet containing 20% mannitol for comparison. There were no treatment-related mortalities in either mice or rats. Soft stools and occasional diarrhea were observed in rats fed diets with 20% erythritol or mannitol but not in mice. Body weights were slightly yet significantly reduced in rats fed 20% erythritol or mannitol and in male mice of the 20% dose group. Erythritol intake in the high-dose group was approximately 12 g/kg body wt in rats and 44 and 45 g/kg body wt in male and female mice, respectively. Hematological and clinicochemical examinations of blood and plasma did not reveal any treatment-related effects. Urine output increased with increasing erythritol dose. In male and female mice of the 20% erythritol group, the creatinine-normalized urinary excretion of protein, K-glutamyltransferase (GGT), and electrolytes (Na+, K+, Ca2+, Pi, citrate) was significantly increased while urinary N-acetylglucosaminidase (NAG) remained unchanged. At the 10% level, significantly increased urinary protein (both sexes) and GGT (males only) excretion were seen. In rats, the creatinine-normalized urinary excretion of GGT, NAG, and some electrolytes (Na+, K+, and Ca2+) was increased in some erythritol groups but a clear dose-response relationship was evident only for calcium. On termination of the study, cecal enlargement was seen in rats of the 10 and 20% dose groups and in mice of the 20% dose group. Increased relative and absolute kidney weights were observed in both sexes of mice in the 20% erythritol group, in male mice of the 5 and 10% groups, and in rats of the 10 and 20% erythritol groups. Histopathological examination did not reveal any treatment-related abnormalities in either mice or rats. In conclusion, the ingestion of erythritol for 90 days at dietary levels of up to 20% did not produce signs of toxicity in mice or rats. In particular, the morphological integrity of the kidneys was not adversely affected by the treatment in either species. The increases in urinary excretion of protein, GGT, NAG, and electrolytes were considered to result from extensive osmotic diuresis and a potential overload of the renal excretory system at the high dose levels employed.

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