A study on the reproductive toxicity of erythrosine in male mice

Pharmacol Res. 1997 May;35(5):457-62. doi: 10.1006/phrs.1997.0158.


Worldwide usage of different colouring agents in the food industry prompted us to study their toxicity. The potential adverse effects of erythrosine (ER, FD & C Red No. 3) on the spermatogenesis process were investigated in adult mice. Testicular lactic dehydrogenase isoenzyme activity (LDH-X), a pachytene spermatocyte marker of testicular toxicity, was significantly decreased to 71.8% and 68.6% of the control value after daily p.o. administration of ER (21 days) in doses of 68 and 136 mg kg-1 respectively. At the same time, the normal average epididymal sperm count as well as the percentage of motile sperms were significantly inhibited by about 50% and 57% respectively. Moreover, ER was shown to disrupt the normal morphology of the sperm head. Thus, after 5 daily p.o administrations of ER in doses of 680 and 1360 mg kg-1 (equivalent to 10 and 20% of its LD50) it increased the incidence of sperms with abnormal head by about 57% and 65% respectively. The induced increase in sperm abnormalities could enhance the spermatogenic dysfunction and germ cell mutagenicity. These findings indicate that ER in the used doses has a potential toxic effect on spermatogenesis in mice and in turn, it may affect its testicular function and reproductive performance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coloring Agents / toxicity*
  • Erythrosine / toxicity*
  • Infertility, Male / chemically induced*
  • Isoenzymes
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Sperm Count / drug effects
  • Sperm Head / drug effects
  • Sperm Head / ultrastructure
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects
  • Testis / cytology
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Testis / enzymology


  • Coloring Agents
  • Isoenzymes
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Erythrosine