Tartrazine induces structural and functional aberrations and genotoxic effects in vivo

PeerJ. 2017 Feb 23:5:e3041. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3041. eCollection 2017.


Tartrazine is a synthetic organic azo dye widely used in food and pharmaceutical products. The current study aimed to evaluate the possible adverse effect of this coloring food additive on renal and hepatic structures and functions. Also, the genotoxic potential of tartrazine on white blood cells was investigated using comet assay. Twenty adult male Wistar rats were grouped into two groups of 10 each, control- and tartrazine-treated groups. The control group was administered orally with water alone. The experimental group was administered orally with tartrazine (7.5 mg/kg, b.wt.). Our results showed a marked increase in the levels of ALT, AST, ALP, urea, uric acid, creatinine, MDA and NO, and a decreased level of total antioxidants in the serum of rats dosed with tartrazine compared to controls. On the other hand, administration of tartrazine was associated with severe histopathological and cellular alterations of rat liver and kidney tissues and induced DNA damage in leucocytes as detected by comet assay. Taken together, the results showed that tartrazine intake may lead to adverse health effects.

Keywords: Genotoxicity; Histopathology; Serum biochemistry; Tartrazine; Ultrastructure.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Institute of Scientific Research and Revival of Islamic Heritage at Umm-Al Qura University, project number 43405033. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.