Mechanism of action of triclosan as an endocrine-disrupting chemical with its impact on human health – literature review
More details
Hide details
Chair and Department of Epidemiology and Clinical Research Methodology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Marcela Maksymowicz   

Chair and Department of Epidemiology and Clinical Research Methodology, Radziwiłłowska 11, 20-080 Lublin, Poland
J Pre Clin Clin Res. 2021;15(4):169–175
Introduction and objective:
Triclosan is a synthetic, aromatic organic chemical compound with antimicrobial properties. Due to its wide application as a preservative in cosmetics, antiperspirants, plastics, or surgical sutures, various mechanisms of TCS action on the human body are described. The study focus on the analysis of antimicrobial properties, effects on metabolism, immunity and the endocrine system, as well as carcinogenesis.

Review methods:
The latest literature available on 13 June 2021 was reviewed by using the PubMed and Google Scholar databases. There were 34 papers selected for analysis after reading the abstracts, which met the assumed criteria.

Brief description of the state of knowledge:
Triclosan can be used as an antimicrobial against bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. However, over-exposure to TCS can also contribute to the acquisition of resistance in bacteria. Interestingly, triclosan as an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) might disrupt thyroid, ovarian, or testis homeostasis, having a potential impact on reproductive health. TCS via an estrogen receptor signaling pathway can raise estrogen and progesterone secretion and promote development of hormone-dependent neoplasms, such as breast and ovarian cancer. The chemical has also potential to induce cell proliferation of prostate cancer cells. On the other hand, it contributes to apoptosis in Burkitt lymphoma-derived cells, which means that TCS can have antitumour properties.

Triclosan is a commonly usean antimicrobial agent in medical and consumer care products. Due to its unclear impact on organisms, further studies are necessary regarding both the use of TCS as an antibacterial agent and possible harmful effects on the human body.

Maksymowicz M, Machowiec PA, Ręka G, Korzeniowska A, Leszczyk P, Piecewicz Szczęsna H. Mechanism of action of triclosan as an endocrinedisruptingchemical with its impact on human health. Literature review. J Pre-Clin Clin Res. 2021; 15(4): 169–175. doi: 10.26444/jpccr/142065
Alfhili MA, Lee MH. Triclosan: an update on biochemical and molecular mechanisms. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019;2019:1607304. doi: 10.1155/2019/1607304.
Karnas K, Marotta J, Koseki R, et al. Triclosan resistance derived across environmentally and clinically relevant gram negative bacteria. Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. 2019; 93(2): 83–106. doi: 10.5325/jpennacadscie.93.2.0083.
Zhu W, Zhou W, Huo X, et al. Triclosan and female reproductive health: a preconceptional cohort study. Epidemiology. 2019 Jul; 30 Suppl 1: S24-S31. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000001011.
Henriksen NA, Deerenberg EB, Venclauskas L, et al. Triclosan-coated sutures and surgical site infection in abdominal surgery: the TRISTAN review, meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. Hernia. 2017; 21(6): 833–841. doi: 10.1007/s10029-017-1681-0.
Yamashita K, Takeno S, Hoshino S, et al. Triclosan sutures for surgical site infection in colorectal cancer. J Surg Res. 2016; 206(1): 16–21. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2016.06.070.
McFarland AG, Bertucci HK, Littman E, et al. Triclosan tolerance is driven by a conserved mechanism in diverse Pseudomonas species. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2021; 87(7): e02924–20. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02924-20.
Ayyash M, Shehabi AA, Mahmoud NN, et al. Antibiofilm properties of triclosan with EDTA or cranberry as Foley Catheter lock solutions. J Appl Microbiol. 2019; 127(6): 1876–1888. doi: 10.1111/jam.14439.
Mihaich E, Capdevielle M, Urbach-Ross D, et al. Hypothesis-driven weight-of-evidence analysis of endocrine disruption potential: a case study with triclosan. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2017; 47(4): 263–285. doi: 10.1080/10408444.2016.1269722.
Karwacka A, Zamkowska D, Radwan M, et al. Exposure to modern, widespread environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals and their effect on the reproductive potential of women: an overview of current epidemiological evidence. Hum Fertil (Camb). 2019; 22(1): 2–25. doi: 10.1080/14647273.2017.1358828.
Bera KK, Kumar S, Paul T, et al. Triclosan induces immunosuppression and reduces survivability of striped catfish Pangasianodon hypophthalmus during the challenge to a fish pathogenic bacterium. Edwardsiella tarda. Environ Res. 2020; 186: 109575. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109575.
Jurewicz J, Wielgomas B, Radwan M, et al. Triclosan exposure and ovarian reserve. Reprod Toxicol. 2019; 89: 168–172. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2019.07.086.
Zeng W, Xu W, Xu Y, et al. The prevalence and mechanism of triclosan resistance in Escherichia coli isolated from urine samples in Wenzhou, China. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2020; 9(1): 161. doi: 10.1186/s13756-020-00823-5.
Ahmed I, Boulton AJ, Rizvi S, et al. The use of triclosan-coated sutures to prevent surgical site infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. BMJ Open. 2019; 9(9): e029727. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-029727.
Yang L, Zhang C, Huang F, et al. Triclosan-based supramolecular hydrogels as nanoantibiotics for enhanced antibacterial activity. J Control Release. 2020; 324: 354–365. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2020.05.034.
Alfhili MA, Hussein HAM, Park Y, et al. Triclosan induces apoptosis in Burkitt lymphoma-derived BJAB cells through caspase and JNK/MAPK pathways. Apoptosis. 2021; 26(1–2): 96–110. doi: 10.1007/s10495-020-01650-0.
Mahalak KK, Firrman J, Lee JJ, et al. Triclosan has a robust, yet reversible impact on human gut microbial composition in vitro. PLoS One. 2020; 15(6): e0234046. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234046.
Liang Y, Zhang H, Cai Z. New insights into the cellular mechanism of triclosan-induced dermal toxicity from a combined metabolomic and lipidomic approach. Sci Total Environ. 2021; 757: 143976. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143976.
Weatherly LM, Shane HL, Friend SA, et al. Topical application of the antimicrobial agent triclosan induces NLRP3 inflammasome activation and mitochondrial dysfunction. Toxicol Sci. 2020; 176(1): 147–161. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfaa056.
Sangroula S, Baez Vasquez AY, Raut P, et al. Triclosan disrupts immunecell function by depressing Ca2+ influx following acidification of the cytoplasm. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2020; 405: 115205. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2020.115205.
Zhang M, Zhu R, Zhang L. Triclosan stimulates human vascular endothelial cell injury via repression of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR axis. Chemosphere. 2020; 241: 125077. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.125077.
Sanidad KZ, Xiao H, Zhang G. Triclosan, a common antimicrobial ingredient, on gut microbiota and gut health. Gut Microbes. 2019; 10(3): 434–437. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2018.1546521.
Yueh MF, He F, Chen C, et al. Triclosan leads to dysregulation of the metabolic regulator FGF21 exacerbating high fat diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2020; 117(49): 31259–31266. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2017129117.
Liu M, Ai W, Sun L, et al. Triclosan-induced liver injury in zebrafish (Danio rerio) via regulating MAPK/p53 signaling pathway. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2019; 222: 108–117. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2019.04.016.
Lee JD, Lee JY, Kwack SJ, et al. Risk assessment of triclosan, a cosmetic preservative. Toxicol Res. 2019; 35(2): 137–154. doi: 10.5487/TR.2019.35.2.137.
Wu M, Zhao G, Zhuang X, et al. Triclosan treatment decreased the antitumor effect of sorafenib on hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Onco Targets Ther. 2018; 11: 2945–2954. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S165436.
Lee HM, Hwang KA, Choi KC. Diverse pathways of epithelial mesenchymal transition related with cancer progression and metastasis and potential effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on epithelial mesenchymal transition process. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2017; 457: 103–113. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2016.12.026.
Skarha J, Mínguez-Alarcón L, Williams PL, et al. Cross-sectional associations between urinary triclosan and serum thyroid function biomarker concentrations in women. Environ Int. 2019; 122: 256–262. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.11.015.
Braun JM, Chen A, Hoofnagle A, et al. Associations of early life urinary triclosan concentrations with maternal, neonatal, and child thyroid hormone levels. Horm Behav. 2018; 101: 77–84. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2017.11.009.
Chen W, Yang X, Wang B, et al. The effects and possible mechanisms of triclosan on steroidogenesis in primary rat granulosa cells. Reprod Toxicol. 2019; 83: 28–37. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2018.11.001.
Basini G, Bussolati S, Bertini S, et al. Evaluation of triclosan effects on cultured swine luteal cells. Animals (Basel). 2021; 11(3): 606. doi: 10.3390/ani11030606.
Ye J, Zhu W, Liu H, et al. Environmental exposure to triclosan and polycystic ovary syndrome: a cross-sectional study in China. BMJ Open. 2018; 8(10): e019707. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019707.
Priyanka, Trivedi A, Maske P, et al. Gestational and lactational exposure to triclosan causes impaired fertility of F1 male offspring and developmental defects in F2 generation. Environ Pollut. 2020; 257: 113617. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113617.
Mandal TK, Parvin N, Joo SW, et al. Risk assessment of cosmetics using triclosan on future generation’s germ cell maturation via lactating mother rats. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020; 17(4): 1143. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17041143.
Wang C, Chen L, Zhao S, et al. Impacts of prenatal triclosan exposure on fetal reproductive hormones and its potential mechanism. Environ Int. 2018; 111: 279–286. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.11.007.