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Int Immunopharmacol. 2018 Oct;63:145-154. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2018.08.002. Epub 2018 Aug 7.

Comparative haemato-immunotoxic impacts of long-term exposure to tartrazine and chlorophyll in rats.

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Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Zagazig University, Zagazig, Egypt. Electronic address:
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt.
Pathology Department, Animal Reproduction Research Institute (ARRI), Giza, Egypt.
Immunology Unit, Animal Reproduction Research Institute (ARRI), Giza, Egypt.
Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Zagazig University, Zagazig, Egypt.
Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Zagazig University, Zagazig, Egypt; Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.


The haemato-immunotoxic effects of the food colourants tartrazine and chlorophyll were evaluated. Thirty adult Sprague Dawley rats were distributed into three groups and orally administered water, tartrazine (1.35 mg/kg), or chlorophyll (1.35 mg/kg) daily for 90 days. Erythrogram and leukogram profiles were evaluated. The lysozyme, nitric oxide, phagocytic activity, and immunoglobulin levels were measured. Histological and immunohistochemical evaluations of splenic tissues were conducted. Changes in the interleukin (IL) 1β, 6, and 10 mRNA expression levels were assessed. In the tartrazine-treated rats, a significant anaemic condition and marked leukocytosis were observed. Both the innate and humoural parameters were significantly depressed. Different pathological lesions were observed, including red pulp haemorrhages, vacuolation of some splenic cells, focal hyperplasia of the white pulp, and capsular and parenchymal fibrosis. A marked increase in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (e-NOS) immunolabelling was evident. Marked upregulation of IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-10 was recorded. In contrast, the chlorophyll-treated rats showed minimal haemato-immune responses. These results indicate that tartrazine exerts haematotoxic and immunotoxic effects following long-term exposure, whereas chlorophyll is a less hazardous food colourant.


Chlorophyll; Food colourant; Immune function; Interleukins; Tartrazine

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