AUG 27, 2017 5:31 PM PDT

Common Antiseptics can Harm Cells

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

New work by researchers at the University of California, Davis, has suggested that a common class of chemical compounds may be de-energizing mammalian cells. These chemicals, quaternary ammonium compounds, or "quats," are often used in household products as antimicrobials. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the report indicates that many items we consume or have in our homes including lozenges, mouthwash, toothpaste, eye drops, shampoo, lotion, or household cleaners, could be inhibiting mitochondria and estrogen signaling in cells.

'Quats' or quarternary ammonium compounds may not be a good alternative to triclosan. / Credit: Freestockphotos.biz

"Disinfectants that we are putting on and in our bodies, and using in our environment, have been shown to inhibit mitochondrial energy production and the cellular estrogen response," explained senior author Gino Cortopassi, a biochemist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. "This raises concern because exposure to other mitochondrial-inhibiting drugs, such as rotenone and MPTP, is associated with increased risk for Parkinson's disease."

The researchers assessed how mitochondrial function was impacted by over 1,600 chemical compounds used in pharmaceuticals and household products. Quats were found to inhibit both estrogen signaling and mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are critical cell powerhouses that create vital energy. Estrogen is important to the regulation of a woman’s menstrual cycle and sexual development.

"Because exposure to quats is also interrupting the sex hormone estrogen response in cells, it could also potentially cause reproductive harm in animals or humans, and others have shown that quats cause reproductive toxicity in animals," Cortopassi said.

This work was performed in a cell culture model, but it dovetails with other research done by investigators at Virginia Tech. In that study, it was found that exposure to quats (via lab disinfectant) caused reduced fertility and reproductive problems in mice. A link was also found between quats and birth defects in mice and rats.

"Our study in cells provides a mechanism for their observations in laboratory animals," noted Sandipan Datta, a postdoctoral researcher in the Cortopassi lab. "They demonstrated that quat exposure caused reproductive toxicity in both females and males. The anti-estrogenic effects we see in cells could explain the female reproductive toxicity they observed, such as less estrus cycles and lower breeding rates.”

After triclosan, another popular antiseptic was removed from the market, some companies moved to replace it with quats, said Cortopassi. This new data indicates it might not be a good choice. However, more work is needed, he continued, to confirm that humans experience an adverse effect, and whether these compounds can build up in the body.

"This paper adds to the growing number of studies which find that quats may not be as safe as previously believed," commented Terry Hrubec, associate professor at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia, who was not affiliated with this study. "The fact that six out of the ten most potent mitochondrial inhibitors were quats shows that this class of chemicals likely affects living systems. The results from this study are concerning because almost everyone is exposed to quats on a regular basis."

 

 

Sources: Science Daily via UC Davis, Environmental Health Perspectives

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAY 06, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Using Biology as Technology: A Paradigm Shift
MAY 06, 2021
Using Biology as Technology: A Paradigm Shift
Digital networks have changed the world by integrating into almost every aspect of our lives, but they have yet to direc ...
MAY 03, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Are Retrons the Next CRISPR?
MAY 03, 2021
Are Retrons the Next CRISPR?
After being identified in the 1980s, it was thought that retrons were just an odd feature of some bacterial cells. But e ...
MAY 06, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Improved Genetic Technologies Find Elusive Genetic Mutations
MAY 06, 2021
Improved Genetic Technologies Find Elusive Genetic Mutations
Some genetic diseases are caused by inborn errors - genetic mutations that we're born with and that end up in every cell ...
MAY 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Getting RNA-Based Medicine Past the Blood-Brain Barrier
MAY 10, 2021
Getting RNA-Based Medicine Past the Blood-Brain Barrier
RNA molecules serve several functions, one of which is to help the cell generate proteins from active genes. It also may ...
MAY 12, 2021
Cardiology
Reversing the Heart Damage Seen in Marfan Syndrome
MAY 12, 2021
Reversing the Heart Damage Seen in Marfan Syndrome
Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that disrupts the connective tissues that anchor and link the body's organs, affec ...
MAY 24, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Animal Trial of Asthma Vaccine Has Positive Results
MAY 24, 2021
Animal Trial of Asthma Vaccine Has Positive Results
Asthma is thought to affect 340 million people. A type of asthma that happens when allergens like dust mites are inhaled ...
Loading Comments...