Effect of Food Azo Dye Tartrazine on Learning and Memory Functions in Mice and Rats, and the Possible Mechanisms Involved

Yonglin Gao, Chunmei Li, Jingyu shen, Huaxian Yin, Xiulin An, Haizhu Jin
Journal of Food Science
Volume 76, Issue 6, pages T125T129, August 2011


Tartrazine is an artificial azo dye commonly used in human food and pharmaceutical products. The present study was conducted to evaluate the toxic effect of tartrazine on the learning and memory functions in mice and rats. Animals were administered different doses of tartrazine for a period of 30 d and were evaluated by open-field test step-through test and Morris water maze test respectively. Furthermore the biomarkers of the oxidative stress and pathohistology were also measured to explore the possible mechanisms involved.

The results indicated that tartrazine extract significantly enhanced active behavioral response to the open field increased the escape latency in Morris water maze test and decreased the retention latency in step-through tests. The decline in the activities of catalase glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) as well as a rise in the level of malonaldehyde (MDA) were observed in the brain of tartrazine-treated rats and these changes were associated with the brain from oxidative damage.

The dose levels of tartrazine in the present study produced a few adverse effects in learning and memory functions in animals. The mechanisms might be attributed to promoting lipid peroxidation products and reactive oxygen species inhibiting endogenous antioxidant defense enzymes and the brain tissue damage.

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