Food and Behaviour Research

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A common antimicrobial additive increases colonic inflammation and colitis-associated colon tumorigenesis in mice

Yang H, Wang W, Romano KA, Gu M, Sanidad KZ, Kim D, Yang J, Schmidt B, Panigrahy D, Pei R, Martin DA, Ozay E, Wang Y, Song M, Bolling BW, Xiao H, Minter LM, Yang GY, Liu Z, Rey FE, Zhang G (2018) Sci Transl Med.  2018 May 30;10(443).  pii: eaan4116. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan4116. 

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Abstract:

Triclosan (TCS) is a high-volume chemical used as an antimicrobial ingredient in more than 2000 consumer products, such as toothpaste, cosmetics, kitchenware, and toys. We report that brief exposure to TCS, at relatively low doses, causes low-grade colonic inflammation, increases colitis, and exacerbates colitis-associated colon cancer in mice.

Exposure to TCS alters gut microbiota in mice, and its proinflammatory effect is attenuated in germ-free mice. In addition, TCS treatment increases activation of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling in vivo and fails to promote colitis in 
Tlr4-/- mice. Together, our results demonstrate that this widely used antimicrobial ingredient could have adverse effects on colonic inflammation and associated colon tumorigenesis through modulation of the gut microbiota and TLR4 signaling.

Together, these results highlight the need to reassess the effects of TCS on human health and potentially update policies regulating the use of this widely used antimicrobial.