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April 1979

Tartrazine Compounds

Arch Dermatol. 1979;115(4):508. doi:10.1001/archderm.1979.04010040080030

To the Editor.—  It has been reported in the literature that asthma, urticaria, angioedema, and some cases of allergic vascular purpura could be explained on the basis of tartrazine sensitivity.1,2Tartrazine (hydrazine yellow) was introduced into the market for commercial use around 1950 (Fig 1). In analyzing its chemistry we find as intermediary compounds the presence of p-sulfophenylhydrazine and sulfanilic acid (Fig 2 and 3). Note the similarity of sulfanilic acid to sulfanilamide, a known photoallergen. Observe that p-sulfophenylhydrazine has the hydrazyl radical, which could cross react with hydralazine, a known lupus inducer. Also note that there are structural similarities to phenylhydrazine hydrochloride and β-phenylethylhydrazine sulfate (phenelzine sulfate [Nardil]), which may have potential oncogenic properties.3If in the process of excretion or metabolization of this widely used dye, these two compounds emerge as such (p-sulfophenylhydrazine and sulfanilic acid) and they have the capacity of cross