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Mutat Res. 2006 Dec 10;611(1-2):42-53. Epub 2006 Sep 1.

A comparative study on the antimutagenic properties of aqueous extracts of Aspalathus linearis (rooibos), different Cyclopia spp. (honeybush) and Camellia sinensis teas.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa.


Antimutagenic activity of aqueous extracts of the South African herbal teas, Aspalathus linearis (rooibos) and Cyclopia spp. (honeybush) was compared with that of Camellia sinensis (black, oolong and green) teas in the Salmonella mutagenicity assay using aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1)) and 2-acetylaminofluorene (2-AAF) as mutagens. The present study presents the first investigation on antimutagenic properties of C. subternata, C. genistoides and C. sessiliflora. The herbal teas demonstrated protection against both mutagens in the presence of metabolic activation, with the exception of "unfermented" (green/unoxidised) C. genistoides against 2-AAF, which either protected or enhanced mutagenesis depending on the concentration. Antimutagenic activity of "fermented" (oxidised) rooibos was significantly (P<0.05) less than that of Camellia sinensis teas against AFB(1), while for 2-AAF it was less (P<0.05) than that of black tea and similar (P>0.05) to that of oolong and green teas. Antimutagenic activity of unfermented C. intermedia and C. subternata exhibited a similar protection as fermented rooibos against AFB(1). Against 2-AAF, fermented rooibos exhibited similar protective properties than unfermented C. intermedia and C. sessiliflora. Unfermented rooibos was less effective than the C. sinensis teas and fermented rooibos, but had similar (P>0.05) antimutagenicity to that of fermented C. sessiliflora against AFB(1) and fermented C. subternata against 2-AAF. Fermented C. intermedia and C. genistoides exhibited the lowest protective effect against 2-AAF, while fermented C. intermedia exhibited the lowest protection when utilising AFB(1) as mutagen. Aspalathin and mangiferin, major polyphenols in rooibos and Cyclopia spp., respectively, exhibited weak to moderate protective effects when compared to the major green tea catechin, (-)epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Antimutagenic activity of selected herbal tea phenolic compounds indicated that they contribute towards (i) observed antimutagenic activity of the aqueous extracts against both mutagens and (ii) enhancement of the mutagenicity of 2-AAF by unfermented C. genistoides. Antimutagenic activity of the South African herbal teas was mutagen-specific, affected by fermentation and plant material, presumably due to changes and variation in phenolic composition.

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