Deciphering the MSG controversy

Jennifer S. Xiong, Debbie Branigan, Minghua Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a common flavor enhancer in various canned food and stereotypically associated with food in Chinese restaurants, has been claimed and tested to have side effects including headache and dizziness. However, the mechanism behind MSG-induced headache was not clear. Using dissociated mouse neuronal culture and cell injury assays, we determined whether incubation of neurons with clinically relevant concentrations of MSG induces cell swelling or death, and whether any measure can be taken to prevent or reduce MSG effects. We demonstrated that (1) Treatment with MSG induces a dose-dependent swelling and death of mature neurons (12-14 days in culture) with little effect on young immature neurons (

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-336
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • Headache
  • Injury
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Neuron
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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