An investigation of some Turkish herbal medicines in Salmonella typhimurium and in the COMET assay in human lymphocytes

A. Ahmet Basaran, Tian Wei Yu, Michael J. Plewa, Diana Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medicinal plants play a major role in the life of Turkish people and of late medicinal plant usage has increased in many countries. Green plants in general contain mutagenic and carcinogenic substances, but there is little information about the biological activities of herbal medicine. In the present study, therefore, various Turkish medicinal herbs were investigated for their genotoxic potential in the Salmonella typhimurium microsomal activation assay and the alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis (COMET) assay. Extracts from these medicinal herbs and some fractions of these extracts were examined. The species investigated were Arctium minus, Ecballium elatterium, Momordica charantia, Plantago major, Urtica dioica, Viscum album, Salvia triloba, Euphorbia rigida, Stachys lavandulifolia, Acteoside, Abies nordmannia. They are used for various immune disorders and are applied either topically or taken orally as a herbal tea. Of the 19 samples of the extracts and fractions investigated, none produced a positive response in strains TA98 and TA100 with or without metabolic activation, but all produced an increase above negative control values in the COMET assay. Some extracts were investigated further and produced dose-related increases. In the case of Urtica and Euphorbia species, where two fractions from these plants were examined, one fraction produced a greater response than the other. It is suggested that the lesser response of the fractions might be due to less DNA strand-breaking agents in the fractions or they may have antigenotoxic properties. The breaks that are detected in the COMET assay could be alkali-labile AP-sites and intermediates in base- or nucleotide-excision repair and are difficult to interpret in terms of hazard for man. Further studies with additional genotoxicity assays would be required to make such a prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
JournalTeratogenesis Carcinogenesis and Mutagenesis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Ames test
  • COMET assay
  • Medicinal plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Toxicology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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