Toxicological assessment and food allergy of silk fibroin derived from Bombyx mori cocoons

Sezin Yigit, Nadia S. Hallaj, James L. Sugarman, Lester C. Chong, Samantha E. Roman, Laith M. Abu-Taleb, Richard E. Goodman, Philip E. Johnson, Adam M. Behrens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent studies have demonstrated silk fibroin protein's (SF) ability to extend the shelf life of foods by mitigating the hallmarks of spoilage, namely oxidation and dehydration. Due to the potential for this protein to become more widespread, its safety was evaluated comprehensively. First, a bacterial reverse mutation test (Ames test) was conducted in five bacterial strains. Second, an in vivo erythrocyte test was conducted with Sprague Dawley rats at doses up to 1,000mg/kg-bw/day. Third, a range-finder study was conducted with Sprague Dawley rats at the highest consumption amount given solubility and oral gavage volume constrains (500mg/kg-bw/day). Fourth, a 28-day sub-chronic study in Sprague Dawley rats was conducted with the high dose set at 500mg/kg-bw/day, as limited by solubility of the protein in a single-gavage per-day study. Fifth, an in vitro pepsin digestion assay was performed to assess the potential for protein allergenicity. Sixth, allergenic potential was further assessed using liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy for detection of allergenic insect proteins. Seventh, the SF protein sequences were subjected to bioinformatic analyses. Together, these studies raise no mutagenic, genotoxic, toxicological, or allergenic concerns with the oral consumption of silk fibroin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112117
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Allergenicity
  • Bombyx mori
  • Food safety
  • Mutagenicity
  • Silk fibroin
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Toxicology


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