What is dinitrophenol?

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Dinitrophenol (DNP) or 2,4-Dinitrophenol (its International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry name) is a chemical compound with a chemical formula of C6H4N2O5 and a molecular weight of 184 g/mol.

This is an organic compound with a benzene molecule carrying a single phenol group and two nitro groups. It is available as a yellow-colored, dry, solid powder. This chemical undergoes sublimation (direct conversion of solid to gaseous phase on heating).

DNP is commonly used as an antiseptic, pesticide, as a photographic chemical, and in the manufacturing of dyes and explosives.

DNP is an ionophore, which means this chemical is capable of shuttling ions through the cell membrane. More specifically, it is capable of shuttling protons across the cell membrane and this ensures that the proton motive force (PMF) is not build to high levels. This effectively causes ATP (energy currency of cells) production to decrease. This means that while catabolism continues at the same rate, anabolism does not produce the corresponding levels of energy and biomass.

For these characteristics, DNP was (and is) commonly used as a weight-loss agent. Unfortunately, this application has been related to adverse health effects, including death. As has been reported in several news reports, DNP is commonly available over the internet and people continue to use it as for weight loss, without realizing the health effects it may cause.

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