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J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Dec 10;126(3):406-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.09.025. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Mutagenic and antimutagenic activities of aqueous and methanol extracts of Euphorbia hirta.

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School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, International Medical University, No. 126, Jalan 19/155B, 57000 Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Euphorbia hirta (E. hirta) is a weed commonly found in tropical countries and has been used traditionally for asthma, bronchitis and conjunctivitis. However, one of the constituents in this plant, quercetin, was previously reported to be mutagenic. This work aimed to determine the level of quercetin in the aqueous and methanol plant extracts and to investigate the mutagenic effects of quercetin and the extracts in the Ames test utilising the mutant Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100 strains. The antimutagenic activity of Euphorbia hirta aqueous and methanol extracts was also studied in Salmonella typhimurium TA98. HPLC analyses showed that quercetin and rutin, a glycosidic form of quercetin, were present in the acid-hydrolysed methanol extract and non-hydrolysed methanol extract respectively. The quercetin concentration was negligible in both non-hydrolysed and acid-hydrolysed aqueous extracts. The total phenolic contents in Euphorbia hirta were determined to be 268 and 93 mg gallic acid equivalent (GAE) per gram of aqueous and methanol extracts, respectively. Quercetin (25 microg/mL) was found to be strongly mutagenic in Salmonella typhimurium TA98 in the absence and presence of S-9 metabolic activation. However, both the aqueous and methanol extracts did not demonstrate any mutagenic properties when tested with Salmonella typhimurium TA98 and TA100 strains at concentrations up to 100 microg/mL in the absence and presence of S-9 metabolic activation. In the absence of S-9 metabolic activation, both the extracts were unable to inhibit the mutagenicity of the known mutagen, 2-nitrofluorene, in Salmonella typhimurium TA98. On the other hand, the aqueous extracts at 100 microg/mL and methanol extracts at 10 and 100 microg/mL exhibited strong antimutagenic activity against the mutagenicity of 2-aminoanthracene, a known mutagen, in the presence of S-9 metabolic activating enzymes. The results indicated that these extracts could modulate the xenobiotic metabolising enzymes in the liver at the higher concentrations.

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