Examination reveals how triclosan, probably found in toothpaste, is triggered to damage the gut


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A new study performed in mice shows exactly how triclosan, an antimicrobial substance found in toothpaste, toys and thousands of other products, can trigger intestinal inflammation.

An international team of researchers led by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Hong Kong Baptist University identified the bacteria, and even specific enzymes that trigger the harmful effects of triclosan. In addition, studies in mice suggest that these bacterial enzymes may be blocked from causing intestinal damage.

The results were published in Nature communication.

“By identifying the culprits, new approaches can be developed to diagnose, prevent and treat inflammatory bowel disease,” said study author Matthew Redinbo, professor of chemistry and microbiology at UNC-Chapel Hill College of Arts & Sciences and UNC School of Medicine.

Previous research has shown the toxicity of triclosan, but the new study provides a closer look at the changes caused in the intestinal microscopic population.

Researchers linked specific intestinal microbial enzymes, particularly intestinal microbial beta-glucuronidase (GUS) proteins, with triclosan and showed that these enzymes drive triclosan to wreak havoc in the gut.

Knowing which bacterial proteins were the culprits, the team used a microbiome-targeted inhibitor to block triclosan treatment in the gut. Blocking this process in mice prevented colon damage and symptoms of colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

The study provides new clues about the management of IBD among the increasing number of people diagnosed with the disease. IBD can be managed for long periods of time only to flare up out of seemingly nothing.

Study authors suggest the need for a better understanding of the impact of environmental chemicals on gut health.

Triclosan used to be widely available in antibacterial soaps marketed to consumers. But in 2016, the Food and Drug Administration ordered it removed from washbasin products used in home and hospital environments due to concerns that it contributed to more resistant bacteria.

But triclosan remains ubiquitous as an ingredient added to cosmetics, yoga mats and other athletic clothing and equipment to reduce bacterial contamination. It is also used routinely in many toothpastes – with FDA approval – as it has been shown to prevent gingivitis.

Triclosan appears to be readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, leading authors to write, “the safety of triclosan and related compounds should be reconsidered given their potential for intestinal damage.”

The National Institutes of Health, through grants from several authors, the Hong Kong Research Grants Council and the National Science Foundation funded the study, “Microbial enzymes induce colitis by reactivating triclosan in the mouse’s gastrointestinal tract.”

Mouse study links triclosan, a common antimicrobial agent, to colitis

More information:
Microbial enzymes induce colitis by reactivating triclosan in the mouse gastrointestinal tract, Nature communication (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-27762-y

Provided by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Citation: Study reveals how triclosan, probably found in toothpaste, is triggered to damage the gut (2022, January 10) Retrieved January 11, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-01-reveals-triclosan-toothpaste- triggered- gut.html

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