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Mutat Res. 2000 Nov 20;471(1-2):157-66.

An investigation on the antimutagenic properties of South African herbal teas.

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  • 1Programme on Mycotoxins and Experimental Carcinogenesis, Medical Research Council, P.O. Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa.


The antimutagenic properties of South African herbal teas were investigated using the Salmonella typhimurium mutagenicity assay. Aqueous extracts of fermented and unfermented rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) and honeybush tea (Cyclopia intermedia) both possess antimutagenic activity against 2-acetylaminofluorene (2-AAF) and aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1))-induced mutagenesis using tester strains TA98 and TA100 in the presence of metabolic activation. A far less inhibitory effect was noticed against the direct acting mutagens, methyl methanesulfonate (MMS), cumolhydroperoxide (CHP), and hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) using TA102, a strain designed to detect oxidative mutagens and carcinogens. Depending on the mutagen used, the unfermented tea exhibited the highest protective effect. A similar response regarding the protection against mutagenesis was obtained when utilising different variations of the double layer Salmonella assay. The double layer technique proved to be more effective to detect the protective effect of the different tea preparations against the direct acting mutagens. With respect to indirect mutagens, the highest protection was noticed when the carcinogen was metabolically activated in the presence of the tea extract as compared with when the tea extract was incubated in a separate layer with the bacteria. The current data suggest that two mechanisms seem to be involved in the antimutagenicity of the tea extracts towards carcinogens that require metabolic activation: (i) the tea components may interfere with cytochrome P450-mediated metabolism of these mutagens and (ii) the direct interaction between the tea constituents, presumably the polyphenolic compounds, with the promutagens and/or the active mutagenic metabolites. However, the mild and/or lack of protection and in some cases even enhancement of mutagenesis induced by direct acting or oxidative mutagens, provide new perspectives regarding the role of the polyphenolic compounds known to exhibit antioxidant properties, in the protection against mutagenesis in the Salmonella assay. The present study provides the first evidence on the antimutagenic activity of honeybush tea and further evidence on the antimutagenicity of rooibos tea.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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