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Chem Biol Interact. 2019 May 1;304:28-42. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2019.02.016. Epub 2019 Feb 23.

Prenatal developmental toxicity evaluation of Verbena officinalis during gestation period in female Sprague-Dawley rats.

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Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Electronic address:


Verbena officinalis is widely used by women for maintaining general health and treating various gynaecological disorders during pregnancy. A case report has indicated that the consumption of V. officinalis induced an abortifacient effect. Hence, this study aimed to investigate the prenatal developmental toxicity of this plant according to OECD guideline (no. 414). A total of 50 pregnant female rats (dams) were distributed into five groups (n = 10); 500 mg/kg 1000 mg/2000 mg/kg and 3000 mg/kg of V. offcinalis extracts and the fifth group served as a normal control. All dams received their respective oral single daily treatment from the 6th to the 20th day of gestation. Maternal clinical toxicity signs, body weight and weight gain were recorded. Caesarean sections were performed on day 21 to evaluate embryo-foetal developmental toxicity. For dams, ovaries were harvested and weighed. The number of corpora lutea, implantation sites, and resorptions were recorded. No mortality was observed in dams, but their body weight gain was significantly reduced particularly in dams treated with 2000 and 3000 mg/kg V. officinalis. Asymmetrical distribution of implantation sites and embryos were observed. Embryo-fetotoxicity retardation was observed as evident by the decrease in foetal weight, head cranium, tail length, and higher incidence in the pre-and post-implantation loss. Some foetal skeleton abnormalities such as incomplete ossification of skull, sternebrae, and metatarsal bones were observed in foetuses of the 2000 and 3000 mg/kg V. officinalis-treated dams. LC/MS analysis identified the major constituents including geniposidic acid, tuberonic acid glucoside, luteolin 7, 3'-digalacturonide, iridotrial and apigenin. The glycosylated flavonoids such as apigenin and luteolin could be responsible for the reported prenatal developmental toxicity. In conclusion, the use of V. officinalis during pregnancy is not safe indicating evidence-based toxic effects on the reproductive performance of dams and dose-dependent risk potentials to the foetuses.


Prenatal development toxicity; Reproductive toxicity; Teratogenicity; Verbena officinalis

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