Triclosan disinfectant affects muscle function
As an antibacterial agent, triclosan is contained in numerous personal care products such as soap or make-up. The health effects of the disinfectant have so far been little investigated despite its widespread use. Triclosan has long been suspected of causing allergies. Now US scientists have also found that the disinfectant has a muscle-damaging effect. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), triclosan can also be found in numerous products in Germany.
According to the researchers led by Gennady Cherednichenkoa from the University of Colorado in Denver in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS), the disinfectant in their experiments had a fatal effect on the skeletal and cardiac muscles. "Triclosan weakens cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility in a manner that can have a negative impact on health, especially among sensitive population groups," write Cherednichenkoa and colleagues.
Disinfectant causes allergies and damages the muscles Triclosan can be found today in numerous different products from toothpaste to household cleaners to carpets and mattresses. The use of the disinfectant has long been controversial, since triclosan is suspected of causing allergies. However, the negative effects on muscles discovered by the US scientists could be far more serious. In experiments with mice and fish, Cherednichenkoa and colleagues demonstrated that triclosan influences the activity of certain receptors and thus inhibits muscle function. The intervention in the molecular processes or the neuromuscular disorders means that the muscles can no longer contract properly, the US researchers report.
Muscle function impaired in fish and mice Experiments with fish (minnow) showed that they swam significantly less and moved more slowly after living in water for a week, which was contaminated with concentrations of triclosan, as they are in the environment today are quite common, report Cherednichenkoa and colleagues. The researchers saw this as clear evidence that the fish's muscle function had deteriorated. The disinfectant had a similar effect on the muscles in mice.
According to the US scientists, the mice were 18 percent less able to cling to the surface after being given a dose of the disinfectant. This grip strength test is relatively common and is used to identify neuromuscular disorders. In addition to losing grip, the researchers found a 20 percent decrease in cardiac function in anesthetized mice 20 minutes after being exposed to the disinfectant.
Cardiac and skeletal muscle contraction disrupted by triclosan The impaired heart function in the anesthetized mice was “dramatic,” said the study’s co-author, Nipavan Chiamvimonvat of the Cardiovascular and Internal Medicine Department at the University of Colorado. In laboratory experiments, the scientists also examined the effect of the disinfectant on human muscle cells and found that the molecular processes are also disrupted here, which means that the heart muscle cells, for example, could no longer contract properly. "Triclosan orthogradically and retrogradely affects the signaling between L-type Ca2 + and RyR channels in the skeletal muscle and L-type Ca2 + entry in the heart muscle", which significantly weakens the cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility, report Cherednichenkoa and colleagues.
Actual health risks from triclosan still unclear Although such laboratory tests on individual muscle cells are not necessarily meaningful with regard to the function of the heart as a whole, since the complex interplay of innumerable cells is crucial here, the laboratory experiments can be used as evidence that triclosan causes clinically significant damage causes, the US scientists report. These indications would have been confirmed both in the in vitro and in the in vivo experiments on mice and fish.
The concentrations examined were adapted to the natural circumstances, "but the disinfectant was injected directly into the abdominal cavity of the mice," write Cherednichenkoa and colleagues. This could possibly make a difference in the effects, as triclosan is normally absorbed through the skin, respiratory tract or mucous membranes. "Although the tests allow conclusions to be drawn about the effectiveness of the disinfectant, they do not provide any information about the actual risk to humans and animals," the experts report. Accordingly, it remains unclear at first which risks arise from the use of the disinfectant, even if the current studies provide clear indications that triclosan can have negative effects on health, particularly in sensitive people.
Triclosan disinfectant required Due to the widespread use of the disinfectant, special caution seems to be advised. Triclosan residues have already been detected in human urine, blood and breast milk. Due to the possible effect as an allergy trigger and the now discovered evidence of impairment of the heart and skeletal muscles, the use of disinfectants should be fundamentally reconsidered. Added to this is the risk of developing resistant bacteria due to the constant contact with low doses of triclosan in everyday life. The manufacturers are therefore called on to avoid using the disinfectant as far as possible. Most experts agree that triclosan in personal care products, textiles and cleaning agents should be avoided in the future. Whether this works on a voluntary basis or the legislator has to intervene remains open for the time being.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) initially did not want to comment on the study results. However, Triclosan can also be found in some articles in Germany, said a spokesman for the institute. The substance has not been allowed to be used in the EU since 2010 only in food and in materials that come into direct contact with food. (fp)
Spring cleaning: cleaning agents make you sick
Corrosive decalcifiers irritate mucous membranes
Poisoning is a major threat to children
Picture: Dr. Klaus-Uwe Gerhardt / pixelio.de