Effect of pH and ions on the electronic structure of saccharin

D. S. Williamson, D. L. Nagel, Rodney Smith Markin, Samuel Monroe Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


The sodium salt of saccharin is biologically more active as a urothelial cell mitogen in vivo, when fed to male rats, than are the potassium or calcium salts or the acid form, despite similar concentrations of saccharin excreted in the urine. The differences in bladder-mitogenic activity between sodium saccharin and the other salts of saccharin may be the result of known differences in the ionic composition of the urine of rats receiving these various forms of saccharin. These changes in the rat urine following administration of the different salts of saccharin could be responsible for the observed mitogenic responses to oral saccharin; alternatively the differences in the ionic composition of the urine could result in changes in the electronic structure of the saccharin molecule itself, allowing it to be more active in certain ionic environments. Since the pKa of saccharin is 1.8, essentially all of the saccharin in urine (pH > 5) will exist in the ionized form. We have used 17O, 15N, 13C and two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to explore the electronic structure of the saccharin molecule in aqueous solution. By observing the NMR spectra of the saccharinate ion in the presence of varying concentrations of hydrogen, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate and urate, we have demonstrated that at physiological levels none of these ions significantly alters the electronic structure of the saccharin molecule. Hence the differences in the mitogenic response to the different saccharin salts cannot be explained by alterations in the structure of the saccharin molecule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1987


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Toxicology

Cite this