Is Triclosan a neurotoxic agent?

Joanna A. Ruszkiewicz, Shaojun Li, Maliya B. Rodriguez, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Triclosan (TCS) is an antibacterial agent that has been used in many products since 1960s. Given its broad usage as an antiseptic TCS is present ubiquitously in the environment. Trace levels of TCS continue to be detected in many organisms, and it has been shown to be particularly toxic to aquatic species. The mechanisms underlying TCS-mediated toxicity include hormone dyshomeostasis, induction of oxidative stress, apoptosis and inflammation. Although TCS has been considered to be non-toxic to mammals, the adverse effects of continuous, long-term and low concentration exposure remain unknown. Epidemiological studies revealed that levels of TCS in human tissues, urine, plasma and breast milk correlate with the usage of this antimicrobial. This led to concerns regarding TCS safety and potential toxicity in humans, with special emphasis on early development. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a directive banning the use of TCS in consumer soaps, justifying the move attributed to data gaps on its effectiveness and safety, indicating the need for more studies addressing this chemical-mediated effects on various tissues including the central nervous system (CNS). The aim of this review was to (1) summarize the current findings on the neurotoxic effects of TCS and given the paucity of data, to (2) broaden the discussion to other effects of TCS, which might plausibly be related to neuronal functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-117
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part B: Critical Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2017


  • Triclosan
  • brain
  • central nervous system
  • neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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