Autoxidation and mutagenicity of sodium bisulfite

Dennis A. Pagano*, Errol Zeiger, Avishay Abraham Stark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


An inverse correlation exists between the autoxidation of bisulfite and its mutagenicity in Salmonella. Temperature, pH, and the addition of mannitol, ethanol, or Oxoid broth affect both autoxidation and mutagenicity. A decrease in autoxidation resulted in an increase in the half-life of the parent compound, bisulfite, and its availability for uptake by the cells, leading to increased mutagenesis. The autoxidation of bisulfite is known to produce both sulfur- and oxygen-centered free radicals. The lack of mutagenicity of ammonium persulfate and peroxymonosulfate, which generate the radicals SO4- and SO5-, respectively, argues against the involvement of these oxygen-centered radicals in bisulfite mutagenesis. Inhibition of mutagenesis by the radical spin-trapping agent, DMPO, is consistent with the hypothesis that the sulfur-centered radical, SO3-, plays an important role in bisulfite mutagenesis. The mechanism of bisulfite mutagenesis suggested in this study may have relevance to other known effects attributed to bisulfite, i.e., co-carcinogenesis and immune hypersensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-96
Number of pages8
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1990


  • Autoxidation and mutagenesis
  • Bisulphite, sodium
  • Free radicals
  • Salmonella
  • pH


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