This Ingredient In Your Toothpaste Can Wreak Havoc In The Gut, New Study Finds

New Delhi: An international team of researchers have demonstrated how Triclosan, an antimicrobial compound used in toothpaste, can cause gut inflammation. 
The study, led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Hong Kong Baptist University, was recently published in the Nature Communications journal.

Some Bacteria & Enzymes Activate Triclosan’s Harmful Effects

By conducting the study in mice, the scientists have been able to identify the bacteria, and some specific enzymes, that activate the harmful effects of Triclosan, which is also used in toys and thousands of other products.
The study suggests that the bacterial enzymes can be prevented from driving intestinal damage.
Study author Matthew Redinbo said that new approaches could be developed for the diagnoses, prevention, and treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases by identification of culprit bacteria, according to a statement issued by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
The new study gives a clearer picture of Triclosan’s toxicity, and of the changes caused in the gut microbiome.

How Triclosan Causes Gut Inflammation

Triclosan wreaks havoc in the gut with the help of certain enzymes, the study found. The scientists attached certain gut microbial enzymes such as gut microbial beta-glucuronidase (GUS) proteins to Triclosan and demonstrated how the compound causes inflammation in the intestinal tract.
The researchers blocked the processing of Triclosan in the gut using a microbiome-targeted inhibitor, as they knew which bacterial proteins were the culprits.
By blocking the process in mice, the researchers prevented damage to the colon and symptoms of colitis, which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The findings are important because they suggest ideas about how IBD can be managed in an increasing number of people diagnosed with it. 
A better understanding of the impact of environmental chemicals on gut health is important, the authors noted in the study.

Why FDA Banned Triclosan Use In Some Products

Earlier, Triclosan was widely used in antibacterial soaps. However, in 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) ordered its removal from handwashing products used in humans and hospital settings. 
Triclosan is still used as an ingredient in cosmetics, yoga mats, athletic clothes, and gear to reduce bacterial contamination. The FDA has approved the use of Triclosan in toothpastes because the compound has been found to prevent gingivitis, a disease which causes inflammation of gums.
The authors noted in the study that Triclosan appears to be readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. They warned that the safety of Triclosan and related compounds should be reconsidered considering their potential for intestinal damage.
The study, which was conducted in mice, concluded that microbial enzymes induce colitis by reactivating Triclosan in the gastrointestinal tract.


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