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Topical Pharmacology and Toxicology of Dimethyl Sulfoxide—Part 1

Albert M. Kligman, MD, PhD
JAMA. 1965;193(10):796-804. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090100042010.
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Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is an extraordinary chemical, a derivative of lignin, synthesized more than 75 years ago. It is a highly polar, stable, hygroscopic organic liquid with exceptional solvent properties. Miscible with water, lipoids, and organic solvents, it can bring into solution an extraordinary variety of inorganic and organic chemicals. Its industrial application are numerous and diverse: it is used (1) as a solvent for resins, fungicides, dyes, pigments, etc, (2) as a reactant for chemical synthesis, (3) as an extractant, and (4) as a reaction medium to accelerate rates of chemical combination.

Its unequivocally demonstrated spectrum of biologic activities includes enhancement of penetration through plant and animal membranes1 and preservation of living cells and tissues during freezing.2 It is exceptionally nontoxic. The acute median lethal dose values for mice are, for example, (a) 21,400 mg/kg (oral administration), (b) 3,820 mg/ kg (intravenous administration), and (c) 20,500 mg/kg


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