Safety assessment of recombinant green fluorescent protein orally administered to weaned rats

Harold A. Richards, Chung Ting Han, Robin G. Hopkins, Mark L. Failla, William W. Ward, C. Neal Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Several proposed biotechnological applications of green fluorescent protein (GFP) are likely to result in its introduction into the food supply of domestic animals and humans. We fed pure GFP and diets containing transgenic canola expressing GFP to young male rats for 26 d to evaluate the potential toxicity and allergenicity of GFP. Animals (n = 8 per group) were fed either AIN-93G (control), control diet plus 1.0 mg of purified GFP daily, modified control diet with 200 g/kg canola (Brassica rapa cv Westar), or control diet with 200 g/kg transgenic canola containing one of two levels of GFP. Ingestion of GFP did not affect growth, food intake, relative weight of intestine or other organs, or activities of hepatic enzymes in serum. Comparison of the amino acid sequence of GFP to known food allergens revealed that the greatest number of consecutive amino acid matches between GFP and any food allergen was four, suggesting the absence of common allergen epitopes. Moreover, GFP was rapidly degraded during simulated gastric digestion. These data indicate that GFP is a low allergenicity risk and provide preliminary indications that GFP is not likely to represent a health risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1909-1912
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Allergenicity
  • Food safety
  • Genetically modified food
  • Green fluorescent protein
  • Toxicity

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