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Toxicology. 1977 Feb;7(1):69-83.

Absorption, metabolism and excretion of safrole in the rat and man.


The metabolic disposition of different doses of [14C] safrole were studied in rat and man. In both species, small amounts of orally administered safrole were absorbed rapidly and then excreted almost entirely within 24 h in the urine. In the rat, when the dose was raised from 0.6 to 750 mg/kg, a marked decrease in the rate of elimination occurred as only 25% of the dose was excreted in the urine in 24 h. Furthermore, at the high dose level, plasma and tissue concentrations of both unchanged safrole and its metabolites remained elevated for 48 h probably indicating impairment of the degradation/excretion pathways. The main urinary metabolite in both species was 1,2-dihydroxy-4-allylbenzene which was excreted in a conjugated form. Small amounts of eugenol or its isomer 1-methoxy-2-hydroxy-4-allylbenzene were also detected in rat and man. 1'-Hydroxysafrole, a proximate carcinogen of safrole, and 3'-hydroxyisosafrole were detected as conjugates in the urine of the rat. However, in these investigations we were unable to demonstrate the presence of the latter metabolites in man.

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