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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mutagenicity of benzidine and benzidine-congener dyes and selected monoazo dyes in a modified Salmonella assay.

We have evaluated the mutagenic activity of a series of diazo compounds derived from benzidine and its congeners o-tolidine, o-dianisidine and 3,3'-dichlorobenzidine as well as several monoazo compounds. The test system used was a modification of the standard Ames Salmonella assay in which FMN, hamster liver S9 and a preincubation step are used to facilitate azo reduction and detection of the resulting mutagenic aromatic amines. All of the benzidine and o-tolidine dyes tested were clearly mutagenic. The o-dianisidine dyes except for Direct Blue 218 were also mutagenic. Direct Blue 218 is a copper complex of the mutagenic o-dianisidine dye Direct Blue 15. Pigment Yellow 12, which is derived from 3,3'-dichlorobenzidine, could not be detected as mutagenic, presumably because of its lack of solubility in the test reaction mixture. Of the monoazo dyes tested, methyl orange was clearly mutagenic, while C.I. Acid Red 26 and Acid Dye (C.I. 16155; often referred to as Ponceau 3R) had marginal to weak mutagenic activity. Several commercial dye samples had greater mutagenic activity with the modified test protocol than did equimolar quantities of their mutagenic aromatic amine reduction products. Investigation of this phenomenon for Direct Black 38 and trypan blue showed that it was due to the presence of mutagenic impurities in these samples. The modified method used appears to be suitable for testing the mutagenicity of azo dyes, and it may also be useful for monitoring the presence of mutagenic or potentially carcinogenic impurities in otherwise nonmutagenic azo dyes.[1]


  1. Mutagenicity of benzidine and benzidine-congener dyes and selected monoazo dyes in a modified Salmonella assay. Prival, M.J., Bell, S.J., Mitchell, V.D., Peiperl, M.D., Vaughan, V.L. Mutat. Res. (1984) [Pubmed]
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