Prolonged consumption of food containing the red dye E129 contributes to the development of mild forms of colitis intestinalis, Canadian scientists have found.
There are several chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, for which there are no effective treatments, McMaster University Press reported. Many of these diseases are genetic in nature, but they can be triggered and exacerbated by certain members of the microflora.
Valiul Khan, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and his colleagues have found that a bright red food dye, E129, contributes to some forms of these diseases. It is used in the production of soft drinks, confectionery products, children’s medicines and in cosmetics.
Canadian researchers have studied the effect of the dye on human cell cultures and the intestines of mice and found that exposure to molecules of E129 in human cell cultures disrupted the production of molecules of the hormone serotonin, which plays an important role in controlling bowel function.
The researchers analyzed how different doses of the dye affected intestinal function in healthy mice and in rodents with mild colitis. Experiments showed that long-term feeding of dyed food promoted inflammation and increased intestinal wall permeability in healthy mice, and caused colitis in rodents prone to developing the disease.
The high vulnerability of mice to developing colitis persisted even after the scientists stopped feeding them the tinted food. This was because the dye caused long-term changes in the structure of the microflora, which contributed to the development of disturbances in the circulation of serotonin molecules in the gut. Understanding this, scientists hope, will help create new approaches for preventing and treating colitis.