Mutat Res. 1992 Jul; 280(1): 29-34.
Evaluation of the genotoxic effects of a folk medicine, Petiveria alliacea (Anamu).
University of Cauca, Department of Biology, Papayan, Colombia.
Crude extract from a plant known as Petiveria alliacea (Anamu) is used extensively as folk medicine in developing countries like Colombia, South America. Although the plant is known to contain toxic ingredients potential adverse health effects from its use have not been adequately evaluated. We investigated its genotoxic activities by conducting a sister chromatid exchange (SCE) assay using cells in vitro and in vivo. Lymphocytes from humans were treated at 24 h after initiation of culture for 6 h with alcohol extract from the folk medicine. Concentrations of 0, 10, 100, 250, 275, 500, 750, and 1000 micrograms/ml of the extract were used. Significant dose-dependent increase of SCE (3.7-7.4 SCE per cell) were observed (analysis of variances, p less than 0.01). Delay in cell proliferation but not inhibition of mitosis was also observed. In another experiment, mice were exposed once orally to 1x, 200x, 300x and 400x the human daily consumption dose of Anamu. The induction of sister chromatid exchanges in bone marrow cells were investigated. We observed a significant dose dependent increase of SCE compared with the saline control (2.15-4.53; p less than 0.01) and compared with the solvent control (3.04-4.53; p less than 0.01). Our data suggest, therefore, that the folk medicine contains mutagenic and potentially carcinogenic agents although the medicine is not a potent mutagen. Individuals who consume large amounts of this drug may be at risk for development of health problems. Further studies with cells from exposed individuals and from experimental animals should be conducted to provide a better evaluation of health risk from the use of this drug.