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Mutat Res. 2008 Jun 30;654(1):38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2008.04.008. Epub 2008 May 2.

Evaluation of the potential in vivo genotoxicity of quercetin.

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Merck KGaA, Frankfurter Str. 250, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany.


Quercetin, a naturally occurring flavonol commonly detected in apples, cranberries, blueberries, and onions, has been reported to possess antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and cardioprotective properties. While positive results have been consistently reported in numerous in vitro mutagenicity and genotoxicity assays of quercetin, tested in vivo, quercetin has generally produced negative results in such studies. Furthermore, no evidence of carcinogenicity related to the oral administration of quercetin was observed in chronic rodent assays. In order to further define the in vivo genotoxic potential of quercetin, a bone marrow micronucleus assay and an unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) assay were conducted in Wistar rats. Administered orally to male rats at dose levels of up to 2000 mg/kg body weight, quercetin did not increase the number of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes (MN-PCE) 24 or 48 h following dosing in the micronucleus assay. Likewise, orally administered quercetin (up to 2000 mg/kg body weight) did not induce UDS in hepatocytes of male or female rats. While measurable levels of metabolized quercetin were observed in rat plasma samples for up to 48 h after dosing, peaking at 1h following treatment administration, the unmetabolized aglycone was not identified in either plasma or bone marrow. With the exception of only a few rats, the aglycone was also not detected in liver tissue. These results demonstrate that quercetin is not genotoxic under the conditions of these assays and further support the negative results of previously conducted in vivo assays.

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