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Mutat Res. 1996 Feb 19;350(1):153-61.

Radioprotective effects of antioxidative plant flavonoids in mice.

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Laboratory of Food Hygiene, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Shizuoka, Japan.


Radioprotective effects of tea infusions and plant flavonoids were investigated by using the micronucleus test for anticlastogenic activity and the thiobarbituric acid assay for antioxidative activity. A single gastric intubation of rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) infusion at 1 ml per mouse 2 h prior to gama-ray irradiation (1.5 Gy) reduced the frequency of micronucleated reticulocytes (MNRETs). After the fractionation of rooibos tea infusion, the flavonoid fraction was found to be most anticlastogenic and antioxidative. From this fraction, luteolin was isolated as an effective component. Then, anticlastogenic effects of 12 flavonoids containing luteolin and their antioxidative activities against lipid peroxidation by Fenton's reagent were examined. A good correlation (r=0.717) was observed between both activities. Luteolin showed the most effective potency. A gastric intubation of luteolin (10 micromoles/kg) 2 h prior to gamma-ray irradiation (6 Gy) suppressed lipid peroxidation in mouse bone marrow and spleen and a trend of protective effect of luteolin against the decrease of endogenous ascorbic acid in mouse bone marrow after gamma-ray irradiation (3 Gy) was observed. These results suggest that plant flavonoids, which show antioxidative potency in vitro, work as antioxidants in vivo and their radioprotective effects may be attributed to their scavenging potency towards free radicals such as hydroxyl radicals. Therefore, the flavonoids contained in tea, vegetables and fruits seem to be important as antioxidants in the human diet.

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