Biological effects of the metabolites of dimethyl sulfoxide

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1975 Jan 27;243:104-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1975.tb25349.x.


In summary, the effects of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and its metabolites, dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2) and dimethyl sulfide (DMS), were studied in five selected systems in rats and mice. DMSO enhanced the taurine excretion and the lethality produced by such aromatic hydrocarbons as benzene and chlorobenzene in rats. In mice, DMSO decreased the toxicity such cholinesterase inhibitors as paraoxon and octamethyl pyrophosphoramide. DMSO also lowered the body temperture of rats and reduced the motor activity of mice. Although DMSO2, the major metabolite of DMSO, was not effective in increasing the lethality of solvent hydrocarbons, it seemed to be quite as effective with respect to the other effects. DMS, although quite potent with respect to lowering body temperature and reducing motor activity, was relatively ineffective otherwise. Thus each of the metabolites has a spectrum of activity different from the parent compound; DMSO has the widest spectrum and DMS the narrowest. It remains to be determined whether the therapeutic effects of DMSO are related to the experimental effects reported above in animals, and whether DMSO2 and DMS may share any of the therapeutic effects of DMSO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzene / toxicity
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / toxicity
  • Depression, Chemical
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / metabolism
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Hydrocarbons / toxicity
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Sulfur Oxides / pharmacology*
  • Taurine / metabolism
  • Taurine / urine
  • Time Factors
  • Tranquilizing Agents / pharmacology


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Sulfur Oxides
  • Tranquilizing Agents
  • Taurine
  • Benzene
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide