A widely used food additive has been found to affect the immune system and induce allergies in mice.
The research was conducted by Michigan State pharmacologist Cheryl Rockwell. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recently awarded her the Outstanding New Environmental Scientist award, which comes with a five-year $1.5 million grant in order to continue this research.
The additive tert-Butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) was synthesized to prevent food from spoiling. In 1972, it was approved by the FDA to be used in concentrations of 0.02 percent at most in oils, fats, and other products. The percentage is so small that the additive is not always put in the ingredients label.
The researchers gave mice tBHQ. The mice's T-cells released a type of cytokine associated with allergies. "What we're trying to find out now is why the T cells are behaving this way," Rockwell said.
Source: wochit news, MSUtoday.msu.edu