Genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of Sunset Yellow and Brilliant Blue, colorant food additives, on human blood lymphocytes

Pak J Pharm Sci. 2015 Jan;28(1):227-30.


The synthetic dyes over fifty are used in many areas including the food industry around the world. Sunset Yellow FCF and Brilliant Blue FCF are used as colorant food additives in many food products. The present study investigated the genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of Sunset Yellow and Brilliant Blue. Genotoxic and cytotoxic activities of the food additives were evaluated in lymphocyte cell cultures using mitotic index, replication index and micronucleus assay. Mitotic index frequencies and replication index values were decreased and micronucleus frequency was increased with increasing concentrations of Sunset Yellow and Brilliant Blue. The changes in mitotic index and micronucleus are statistically significant (p<0.05). The results show that the Sunset Yellow and Brilliant Blue can have cytotoxic and genotoxic potential. It care must be taken when using these materials as a food additive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azo Compounds / toxicity*
  • Benzenesulfonates / toxicity*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Food Coloring Agents / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / chemically induced
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Mitotic Index
  • Risk Assessment


  • Azo Compounds
  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • brilliant blue
  • 6-hydroxy-5-((p- sulfophenyl)azo)-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid disodium salt