In vitro toxicity of reuterin, a potential food biopreservative

Food Chem Toxicol. 2016 Oct:96:155-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2016.08.002. Epub 2016 Aug 2.


Reuterin has a high potential as a food preservative due to both its chemical characteristics and its antimicrobial activity against food-borne pathogens and spoilage bacteria. However, there is a lack of information about its toxicity and its capacity to interfere with the metabolism of drugs by inhibiting cytochrome P450 (CYP) activity. The results of this study indicated that reuterin exhibited a moderate cytotoxicity in the human hepatoma cell line HepG2 according to assays measuring three different endpoints in the same set of cells. Reuterin was much less toxic than acrolein and only four times more toxic than diacetyl, a generally recognized as safe flavoring compound. In vitro experiments utilizing human liver microsomes showed that reuterin presents low possibility of displaying in vivo drug interactions by inhibition of CYP3A4, CYP2D6, and CYP2C9. Therefore, reuterin can be considered a promising food biopreservative, although additional toxicology research is needed before permission for use can be granted.

Keywords: Cytochrome P450 (CYP) inhibition; Cytotoxicity; Food biopreservative; Reuterin.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival / drug effects*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9 / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9 / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / chemistry
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors / toxicity*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Food Preservatives*
  • Glyceraldehyde / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glyceraldehyde / toxicity
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Propane / toxicity*


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Food Preservatives
  • 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde
  • Glyceraldehyde
  • CYP2C9 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human
  • Propane