Sensing nutrients within the gastrointestinal tract engages the enteroendocrine cell system to signal within the mucosa, to intrinsic and extrinsic nerve pathways, and the circulation. This signaling provides powerful feedback from the intestine to slow the rate of gastric emptying, limit postprandial glycemic excursions, and induce satiation. This review focuses on the intestinal sensing of sweet stimuli (including low-calorie sweeteners), which engage similar G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to the sweet taste receptors (STRs) of the tongue. It explores the enteroendocrine cell signals deployed upon STR activation that act within and outside the gastrointestinal tract, with a focus on the role of this distinctive pathway in regulating glucose transport function via absorptive enterocytes, and the associated impact on postprandial glycemic responses in animals and humans. The emerging role of diet, including low-calorie sweeteners, in modulating the composition of the gut microbiome and how this may impact glycemic responses of the host, is also discussed, as is recent evidence of a causal role of diet-induced dysbiosis in influencing the gut-brain axis to alter gastric emptying and insulin release. Full knowledge of intestinal STR signaling in humans, and its capacity to engage host and/or microbiome mechanisms that modify glycemic control, holds the potential for improved prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.
- glucose transport
- glycemic control
- intestinal sweet taste receptors
- type 2 diabetes mellitus