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Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Sep;59:541-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.06.046. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

Safety evaluation of a thermolysin enzyme produced from Geobacillus stearothermophilus.

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  • 1Keller and Heckman LLP, Washington, DC 20001, United States.


Thermolysin is a zinc metalloprotease that has potential uses in the food industry. The safety of thermolysin has not been demonstrated before, and therefore a series of standard toxicological tests to assess its potential toxicity was undertaken. The thermolysin used in this study was derived from the thermophilic bacterium Geobacillus stearothermophilus, which had undergone chemical mutagenesis to generate strains with increased thermolysin production. Acute toxicity studies in rats and mice showed that thermolysin powder is not acutely toxic with an oral LD₅₀ of more than 18,000 mg/kg (2520 mg/kg thermolysin protein) in rats and more than 24,000 mg/kg (3360 mg/kg protein) in mice. Subchronic feeding studies in rats for 91 days at doses up to 1000 mg/kg (390 mg/kg protein) revealed no significant differences between treated and non-treated groups and a No Observed Effect Level (NOEL) of 1000 mg/kg (390 mg/kg protein) per day was established. Results from genotoxicity tests such as in vitro chromosomal aberration assay and in vivo mouse micronucleus were negative. Allergenicity sequence analysis revealed no evidence suggesting that thermolysin is an allergen. The data presented in this study support the conclusion that thermolysin is safe for use in food production.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Food; Geobacillus stearothermophilus; Safety; Thermolysin; Toxicity

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