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Mutat Res. 1993 Oct;297(3):293-312.

Genetic toxicity studies of gossypol.

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  • 1Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, CA 92182.


Gossypol, a polyphenolic compound extracted from cotton plants, shows promise for use as a male contraceptive, as well as a treatment for gynecological disorders, cancer, and certain microbial diseases. Before gossypol can be considered safe for widespread human use, particularly by healthy people of childbearing age, its effect on normal genetic processes should be understood. Characterization of gossypol's genotoxic potential has not been approached systematically, although numerous clinical and laboratory studies have addressed issues relating to genetic effects of gossypol. This review summarizes results of relevant studies and offers recommendations for the emphasis of future efforts to understand gossypol's genotoxicity potential. Evidence suggesting that gossypol has any genotoxic effects in mammals under normal physiologic conditions so far is weak, at best. However, several unresolved issues that are important for establishing long-term genetic safety of gossypol were uncovered by this analysis. These include the need for a better understanding of the significance of weak increases in SCE frequency seen in a number of laboratory exposure studies, and more definitive, comprehensive animal tumor bioassay data.

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