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High fructose corn syrup linked to vascular/metabolic dysfunction

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday July 1, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) Eating too much of foods and beverages with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is now known as corn sugar, may boost risk for vascular dysfunction and metabolic syndrome, a new study suggests.  However, the "side effects" of HFCS may be offset by taking resveratrol supplements.

The study released in March 2012 in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology shows rats that consumed a high amount of high fructose corn syrup increased their serum triglycerides, very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), insulin levels and blood pressure, which are associated with heart risk and metabolic syndrome.

Fatma Akar of Gazi University, Etiler, Ankara, Turkey and colleagues tested beverages with 10% and 20% HFCS and 50 mg/L resveratrol in rats to see how HFCS and resveratrol affect several metabolic parameters.   They also measured "endothelial relaxation, vascular contractions, expressions of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), gp91phox and p22phox proteins and superoxide generation in the aortas" of HFCS fed rats.

In the study, the researchers also found HFCS impaired relaxation to acetylcholine and intensified contractions to phenylephrine and angiotensin II, which were associated with decreased eNOS and SIRT1. This suggests that HFCS causes damage to proteins that protect against vascular hypertrophy.

High production of eNOS is good for vascular relaxation, which is good for vascular health and lowers blood pressure.  Sirtuin 1 is a resicue protein that protects against oxidative stress caused by free radicals generated during an oxidation process. Thus high levels of sirtuin 1 are beneficial.

Furthermore, they found HFCS "increased gp91phox and p22phox proteins, along with provoked superoxide production in the aortas from HFCS-treated rats." This means HFCS increased oxidation or increased oxidatve stress.

Gp91phox is the heme binding subunit of the superoxidegenerating NADPH oxidase and p22phox is a critical component of the superoxide-generating NADH/NADPH oxidase system. These two proteins are involved in production of superoxide, which is a product of oxidation and can cause damage to cells and tissue.

On the other hand, resveratrol supplementation efficiently was found to restore HFCS-induced deteriorations.  

Early studies have linked drinking red wine which contains resveratrol with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.  It is known that for one thing, resveratrol helps sirtuin 1 and prevents oxidation.

The researchers concluded "intake of HFCS leads to vascular dysfunction by decreasing vasoprotective factors and provoking oxidative stress in association with metabolic disturbances. Resveratrol has a protective potential against the harmful consequences of HFCS consumption."

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