OANA-CRISTINA SEREMET*, O.T. OLARU**#, D. BĂLĂLĂU***, SIMONA NEGRES*
* Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania
** Department of Botany and Cellular Biology, Faculty of Pharmacy, “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania
*** Department of Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, Romania
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are toxins synthesized by plants, known to be hepatotoxic, genotoxic and carcinogenic. Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot), Petasites hybridus (common butterbur), Senecio vernalis (eastern groundsel) and Symphytum officinale (comfrey) are species traditionally used in phytotherapy that besides the therapeutic compounds contain PAs. The total PAs and the corresponding N-oxides content of the solid plant extracts were measured using Ehrlich’s method with senecionine as a standard substance. The highest content of PAs was found in Senecio vernalis extract (424.92±9.81 mg%), followed by Symphytum officinale extract (150.24±10.35 mg%) and Petasites hybridus extract (0.021±0.00091 mg%). The lowest concentration was found in Tussilago farfara extract (0.0097±0.00072 mg%). In order to assess the toxicity of the extracts on Lactuca sativa, inhibitory concentrations 50% (IC50) of the root elongation were calculated. All extracts inhibited the elongation of the Lactuca sativa radicles. Senecio vernalis extract exhibited the highest toxicity, whilst Symphytum officinale extract, having the second highest concentration of PAs, has the highest IC50. Further studies should be performed in order to determine whether the inhibitory effect is due to the PAs content and how is it influenced by the other components of the extracts.
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