Journal of Morphological Sciences
Journal of Morphological Sciences
Original Article

Destructive effects of 4-methylimidazole on histomorphology of liver


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Background & aims: Food coloring is being done commercially in the food products industry these days which include large number of food dyes including caramel colors. 4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI) is a component of various caramel colored food products such as bakery products, beer, soy sauces, gravy, colas and other soft drinks which are consumed daily. Humans can be exposed to 4-MEI by ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact. Ingestion is the most common route of exposure. Methods: The present study was conducted to evaluate the effects of 4-MEI consumption on liver in albino rats. Adult male Wistar albino rats weighing 150-200 grams were procured for the study and were divided into control and experimental groups. The experimental animals were given 4-MEI orally by gavage at a dose of 250mg/kg body weight daily for a period of one month while the control animals received distilled water. The animals were euthanized under ether anesthesia at the end of experiment within 24 hours of last dose by perfusion with formal saline. The liver was dissected out and processed for histopathological examination. Results: The histopathological observations of liver in experimental rats showed features of focal hepatocellular degeneration with mononuclear cell infiltration, kupffer cell hyperplasia, increased polyploidy and hepatocytic vacuolation. The findings in the present study strongly suggest hepatocellular damage caused by ingestion of 4-methylimidazole which is found in caramel colorants used routinely in food industry.


caramel, 4-methyimidazole, hepatic damage.


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