Mutagenic activity of peptides and the artificial sweetener aspartame after nitrosation

Food Chem Toxicol. 1993 May;31(5):323-9. doi: 10.1016/0278-6915(93)90186-3.

Abstract

Naturally occurring dipeptides, cholecystokinine (CCK, a tetrapeptide hormone) and the artificial sweetener aspartame were nitrosated for 10-30 min with 40 mM-nitrite (pH 3.5, 37 degrees C), and the resultant products examined for mutagenicity in Salmonella typhimurium TA100. Specific mutagenicities (net revertants per mumol precursor) spanned four orders of magnitude, with CCK being the most potent precursor (4700 revertants/mumol) followed by tryptophyl-tryptophan (Trp-Trp; 1000 revertants/mumol). Aspartame and glycyl-Trp (Gly-Trp) had intermediate activity (300 revertants/mumol), while Gly-Gly and methionyl-methionine were only weakly mutagenic (20 and 12 revertants/mumol, respectively). The dipeptides of aspartic acid, phenylalanine and tyrosine had no detectable mutagenicity (limits of detection 0.5, 40 and 5 revertants/mumol, respectively). Kinetic studies with aspartame and Gly-Trp suggested that the mutagenic products arose primarily from nitrosation of the primary amine rather than the amide or indole group. The mutagenicities of nitrosated aspartame and Gly-Trp were higher in TA100 than in TA98, and higher without than with enzymatic activation (S-9 mix) in both strains. The time-course study of Trp-Trp nitrosation showed the production of at least two mutagens: a potent but unstable mutagenicity was seen at very short nitrosation times and a more stable but weaker effect was obtained after more than 60 min of nitrosation. Not only the absolute specific mutagenicity but also the nitrite dependence of the nitrosation reaction and the stability of the nitroso product must be taken into account in determining the risk posed by endogenous nitrosation of foods in the human stomach. Under stomach conditions, nitrosation of the side-chains of certain Trp peptides would be expected to contribute more to the endogenous burden of nitrosated products than nitrosation of aspartame or Gly peptides.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspartame / toxicity*
  • Dipeptides / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Nitrosation
  • Salmonella typhimurium / drug effects

Substances

  • Dipeptides
  • Aspartame