Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Quantitative genotoxicity assays for analysis of medicinal plants: A systematic review.

2016 Feb 3;178:289-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.10.026. Epub 2015 Dec 8.

Author information

  • 1Departamento de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, PR, Brazil.
  • 2Universidade Federal de Pernambuco- UFPE/CAV, Brazil.
  • 3Departamento de Farmacologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Centro Politécnico, Curitiba, Brazil.
  • 4Pharmacological Sci Department, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
  • 5Departamento de Farmacologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Centro Politécnico, Curitiba, Brazil; Departamento de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa, Ponta Grossa, PR, Brazil. Electronic address:



Medicinal plants are known to contain numerous biologically active compounds, and although they have proven pharmacological properties, they can cause harm, including DNA damage.


Review the literature to evaluate the genotoxicity risk of medicinal plants, explore the genotoxicity assays most used and compare these to the current legal requirements.


A quantitative systematic review of the literature, using the keywords "medicinal plants", "genotoxicity" and "mutagenicity", was undertakenQ to identify the types of assays most used to assess genotoxicity, and to evaluate the genotoxicity potential of medicinal plant extracts.


The database searches retrieved 2289 records, 458 of which met the inclusion criteria. Evaluation of the selected articles showed a total of 24 different assays used for an assessment of medicinal plant extract genotoxicity. More than a quarter of those studies (28.4%) reported positive results for genotoxicity.


This review demonstrates that a range of genotoxicity assay methods are used to evaluate the genotoxicity potential of medicinal plant extracts. The most used methods are those recommended by regulatory agencies. However, based on the current findings, in order to conduct a thorough study concerning the possible genotoxic effects of a medicinal plant, we indicate that it is important always to include bacterial and mammalian tests, with at least one in vivo assay. Also, these tests should be capable of detecting outcomes that include mutation induction, clastogenic and aneugenic effects, and structural chromosome abnormalities. In addition, the considerable rate of positive results detected in this analysis further supports the relevance of assessing the genotoxicity potential of medicinal plants.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Genotoxicity assays; Herbal extracts; Medicinal plants; Systematic review