Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, increases intracellular Zn2+ concentration in rat thymocytes: Its relation to oxidative stress

Ikumi Tamura, Yasuhiro Kanbara, Minoru Saito, Kanna Horimoto, Masaya Satoh, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Yasuo Oyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Triclosan is used as an antibacterial agent in household items and personal care products. Since this compound is found in maternal milk of humans and bodies of wild animals, there is growing concern among some consumer groups and scientific community that triclosan is adverse for humans and wild animals. In order to estimate adverse actions of triclosan, the effects of triclosan on intracellular Zn2+ concentration and cellular thiol content were studied in rat thymocytes by the use of flow cytometer with appropriate fluorescent probes. Triclosan at 1-3μM (sublethal concentrations) increased the intensity of FluoZin-3 fluorescence (intracellular Zn2+ concentration) and decreased the intensity of 5-chloromethylfluorescein (5-CMF) fluorescence (cellular thiol content). Negative correlation (r=-0.985) between triclosan-induced changes in FluoZin-3 and 5-CMF fluorescences was found. Removal of external Zn2+ did not significantly affect the triclosan-induced augmentation of FluoZin-3 fluorescence, suggesting an intracellular Zn2+ release by triclosan. These actions of triclosan were similar to those of H2O2 and triclosan significantly potentiated the cytotoxicity of H2O2. Therefore, the results may suggest that triclosan at sublethal concentrations induces oxidative stress that decreases cellular thiol content, resulting in an increase in intracellular Zn2+ concentration by Zn2+ release from intracellular store(s). Since recent studies show many physiological roles of intracellular Zn2+ in cellular functions, the triclosan-induced disturbance of cellular Zn2+ homeostasis may induce adverse actions on the cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-75
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibacterial agent
  • Oxidative stress
  • Thiols
  • Triclosan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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