In a study that has implications for humans with inflammatory diseases, researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., have found that given over a six-week period, the artificial sweetener sucralose, known by the brand name Splenda, worsened gut inflammation in mice with Crohn’s disease, but had no substantive effect on those without the condition. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease of the digestive tract which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, bloody stools, weight loss, and fatigue. About 10% to 15% of human patients report that sweeteners worsen their disease. The study demonstrates that the sweetener induces changes in gut bacteria and gut wall immune cell reactivity, which could result in inflammation or disease flare ups in susceptible people. The findings, which have been recently published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, suggest that “patients with Crohn’s disease should think carefully about consuming such products containing sucralose and maltodextrin,” says the study’s lead author.