Riboflavin enhances photo-oxidation of amino acids under simulated clinical conditions

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1983 May-Jun;7(3):277-9. doi: 10.1177/0148607183007003277.


In neonatal nurseries, solutions of amino acids with added vitamins may be exposed to relatively intense light from phototherapy units. Light, especially in the presence of photosensitizers such as certain vitamins, is capable of destroying amino acids. In the present study, the effect of riboflavin on amino acid concentrations in solutions exposed to light was studied. Solutions of crystalline amino acids with and without added riboflavin were infused into shielded collecting vessels for 24 hr under conditions simulating those occurring during phototherapy. Decreases in concentrations of some amino acids were observed with light exposure alone. Decreases in concentrations of methionine, proline, tryptophan, and tyrosine were significantly greater in the presence of riboflavin that in its absence. Riboflavin concentrations were also significantly reduced after light exposure. Although the losses of amino acids are probably not nutritionally significant, the photo-oxidation products are largely unknown and may be toxic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / radiation effects*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Photochemistry
  • Riboflavin*


  • Amino Acids
  • Nitrogen
  • Riboflavin