Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical extensively used to extend the shelf life of consumer products since its development in the 1960s.
COVID-19 pandemic has prompted even increased use of such antimicrobial compounds. Triclosan came under the spotlight when its presence was detected in human urine, blood, and even milk due to heavy and indiscriminate use.
These findings prompted scientists to explore the negative effect of Triclosan on humans. Even after several studies, the mode of action of Triclosan at the cellular level is still unclear.
In the past, their research work has demonstrated that zebrafish (vertebrate animal) can be used as a human mimetic to explore the effects of Triclosan.
In the new study, Triclosan inhibited purified acetylcholinesterase in a test tube, albeit at high concentrations. However, Triclosan at lower concentrations induced oxidative stress in the brain, which inhibited acetylcholinesterase.
Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme essential for regulating neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the neuron junctions. Acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter is important for brain cells to communicate with each other to coordinate muscle function.
Researchers also revealed that acetylcholinesterase can be protected from the harmful effects of Triclosan by the use of antioxidants. When pretreated with melatonin (an antioxidant), the zebrafish did not show a severe decline in acetylcholinesterase activity upon triclosan exposure.
American food and drug regulator body (FDA) has already imposed a partial ban on the use of Triclosan; however, Indian counterparts are not very explicit on the inclusion of Triclosan in various consumer products.
However, larger-scale studies especially involving humans would give a better picture of the toxic effect of Triclosan on humans.