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J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Sep 25;113(3):427-32. Epub 2007 Jul 7.

Toxicity and mutagenic activity of some selected Nigerian plants.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacognosy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.


The toxicity and mutagenic potential of most African plants implicated in the management of cancer have not been investigated. The ethanolic extracts of selected Nigerian plants were subsequently studied using the brine shrimp lethality tests, inhibition of telomerase activity and induction of chromosomal aberrations in vivo in rat lymphocytes. Morinda lucida root bark, Nymphaea lotus whole plant and Garcinia kola root were active in the three test systems. Bryophyllum calycinum whole plant, Annona senegalensis root, Hymenocardia acida stem bark, Erythrophleum suaveolens leaves and Spondiathus preussii stem bark were toxic to brine shrimps and caused chromosomal damage in rat lymphocytes. Ficus exasperata leaves, Chrysophyllum albidum root bark and Hibiscus sabdariffa leaves were non-toxic to all the three test systems. Chenopodium ambrosioides whole plant was non-toxic to brine shrimps and rat lymphocyte chromosomes but showed inhibition in the conventional telomerase assay indicating a possible selectivity for human chromosomes. The result justified the use of the first eight plants and Chenopodium ambrosioides in the management of cancer in south west Nigeria although they appear to be non-selective and their mode of action may be different from plant to plant. All these plants except Chenopodium ambrosioides are also mutagenic and cytotoxic.

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