Synergistic effects of food colors on the toxicity of 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido[4,3-b]indole (Trp-P-1) in primary cultured rat hepatocytes

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2000 Jun;46(3):130-6. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.46.130.


The synergistic effect of food additives or food colors on the toxicity of 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido[4,3-b]indole (Trp-P-1) was investigated using primary cultured rat hepatocytes. When hepatocytes from rats fed a standard diet were treated with a mixture of four major food additives (sorbitol, sodium L(+)-glutamate, benzoic acid, and propylene glycol) or a mixture of six typical artificial food colors (erythrosine, allura red, new coccine, brilliant blue, tertrazine, and fast green), the in vitro treated food-color mixture itself showed cytotoxicity: the reduction of cell viability and decreases in the activities of gluconeogenesis and ureogenesis. The food-color mixture enhanced cytotoxicity of Trp-P-1 obviously. We then investigated the effects of in vivo-dosed food additives or food colors on Trp-P-1-caused toxicity. Hepatocytes were isolated and cultured from rats fed a diet containing a mixture of food additives or a mixture of food colors with half the amount of their respective acceptable daily intake for 4 wk. Trp-P-1 was administered to the hepatocytes at various concentrations for 12 h. Synergistic effects of in vivo-dosed food additives and food colors were not observed on Trp-P-1-caused cytotoxicity as estimated by a loss of cell viability and the reductions of DNA and protein syntheses. On the contrary, we have observed that in vivo administered food colors synergistically facilitated to reduce the activities of gluconeogenesis and ureogenesis in Trp-P-1-treated hepatocytes. These results suggest that the daily intake of artificial food colors may impair hepatic functions such as gluconeogenesis and ureogenesis, when dietary carcinogens are exposed to the liver cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbolines / toxicity*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytotoxins / toxicity*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Food Additives / pharmacology*
  • Food Coloring Agents / pharmacology*
  • Gluconeogenesis / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Urea / metabolism


  • Carbolines
  • Cytotoxins
  • Food Additives
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Urea
  • 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido(4,3-b)indole