Nutraceutical activity of food is analysed to promote the healthy characteristics of diet where additives are highly used. Caramel is one of the most worldwide consumed additives and it is produced by heating natural carbohydrates. The aim of this study was to evaluate the food safety and the possible nutraceutical potential of caramel colour class IV (CAR). For this purpose, in vivo toxicity/antitoxicity, genotoxicity/antigenotoxicity and longevity assays were performed using the Drosophila melanogaster model. In addition, cytotoxicity, internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, single cell gel electrophoresis and methylation status assays were conducted in the in vitro HL-60 human leukaemia cell line. Our results reported that CAR was neither toxic nor genotoxic and showed antigenotoxic effects in Drosophila. Furthermore, CAR induced cytotoxicity and hipomethylated sat-α repetitive element using HL-60 cell line. In conclusion, the food safety of CAR was demonstrated, since Lethal Dose 50 (LD50) was not reached in toxicity assay and any of the tested concentrations induced mutation rates higher than that of the concurrent control in D. melanogaster. On the other hand, CAR protected DNA from oxidative stress provided by hydrogen peroxide in Drosophila. Moreover, CAR showed chemopreventive activity and modified the methylation status of HL-60 cell line. Nevertheless, much more information about the mechanisms of gene therapies related to epigenetic modulation by food is necessary.
Keywords: caramel colour E150d-Class IV (CAR); food safety; nutraceutical potential.