Various doses of Erythrosine (Red 3) and Tartrazine (Yellow 5) were given to rats for six weeks. At that time, their behavior and ability to recognize objects was evaluated. At the end, their brains were studied for pro-inflammatory cytokines and a variety of enzymes. The results showed significantly decreased memory, increased anxiety behaviors, as well as measurable changes in a variety of biological measures including decreased antioxidants, increased pro-oxidants, and increased pro-inflammatory cytokines.
The authors write that the enhancement of acetylcholinesterase and the inhibition of neurotransmitters like dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin by food dyes can induce cognitive impairment and possibly neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
CONCLUSION: “Our study confirmed that food colors or dyes such as erythrosine and tartrazine induced biochemical alterations and exacerbates cognitive and neurobehavioral decline through increased oxidative and nitrergic stress, acetylcholinesterase activity and release of pro-inflammatory cytokine in the rat’s brain.”