A highly polar organic liquid, that is used widely as a chemical solvent. Because of its ability to penetrate biological membranes, it is used as a vehicle for topical application of pharmaceuticals. It is also used to protect tissue during CRYOPRESERVATION. Dimethyl sulfoxide shows a range of pharmacological activity including analgesia and anti-inflammation. Found in broad bean Phaseolus vulgaris, alfalfa Medicago sativa and many other plants. Flavouring agent Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is the organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2SO. This colorless liquid is an important polar aprotic solvent that dissolves both polar and nonpolar compounds and is miscible in a wide range of organic solvents as well as water. It penetrates the skin very readily, giving it the unusual property of being secreted onto the surface of the tongue after contact with the skin and causing a garlic-like taste in the mouth. (Wikipedia)


Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a key dipolar aprotic solvent. It is less toxic than other members of this class: dimethylformamide, dimethylacetamide, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, HMPA. Dimethyl sulfoxide is the chemical compound (CH3)2SO. This colorless liquid is an important dipolar aprotic solvent. It is readily miscible in a wide range of organic solvents as well as water. It has a distinctive property of penetrating the skin very readily, allowing the handler to taste it. Some describe it as an oyster-like taste, others claim it tastes like garlic. DMSO is also employed as a rinsing agent in the electronics industry and, in its deuterated form (DMSO-d6), is a useful solvent in NMR due to its ability to dissolve a wide range of chemical compounds and its minimal interference with the sample signals. In cryobiology DMSO has been used as a cryoprotectant and is still an important constituent of cryoprotectant vitrification mixtures used to preserve organs, tissues, and cell suspensions. It is particularly important in the freezing and long-term storage of embryonic stem cells and hematopoietic stem cell, which are often frozen in a mixture of 10% DMSO and 90% fetal calf serum. As part of an autologous bone marrow transplant the DMSO is re-infused along with the patient's own hematopoietic stem cell. Dimethyl sulfoxide is a by-product of wood pulping. One of the leading suppliers of DMSO is the Gaylord company in the USA. DMSO is frequently used as solvent in a number of chemical reactions. In particular it is an excellent reaction solvent for SN2 alkylations: it is possible to alkylate indoles with very high yields using potassium hydroxide as the base and a similar reaction also occurs with phenols. DMSO can be reacted with methyl iodide to form a sulfoxonium ion which can be reacted with sodium hydride to form a sulfur ylide. The methyl groups of DMSO are somewhat acidic in character (pKa=35) due to the stabilization of the resultant anions by the sulfoxide group.

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Dimethyl Sulfoxide Interacts with Genes