Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is one of the most commonly used synthetic antioxidants in food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and petrochemical products. BHT is considered safe for human health; however, its widespread use together with the potential toxicological effects have increased consumers concern about the use of this synthetic food additive. In addition, the estimated daily intake of BHT has been demonstrated to exceed the recommended acceptable threshold. In the present work, using BHT as a case study, the usefulness of computational techniques, such as reverse screening and molecular docking, in identifying protein–ligand interactions of food additives at the bases of their toxicological effects has been probed. The computational methods here employed have been useful for the identification of several potential unknown targets of BHT, suggesting a possible explanation for its toxic effects. In silico analyses can be employed to identify new macromolecular targets of synthetic food additives and to explore their functional mechanisms or side effects. Noteworthy, this could be important for the cases in which there is an evident lack of experimental studies, as is the case for BHT.
Tortosa, V., Pietropaolo, V., Brandi, V., Macari, G., Pasquadibisceglie, A., Polticelli, F. (2020). Computational methods for the identification of molecular targets of toxic food additives. Butylated hydroxytoluene as a case study. MOLECULES, 25(9), 2229 [10.3390/molecules25092229].