The herbs Rheum palmatum B and Polygonum cuspidatum S are frequently used as laxatives and anticancer drugs in Chinese medicine. The antimutagenic activity of these herbs as well as their active component emodin was examined in Salmonella typhimurium TA98. The crude extracts and emodin induced a dose-dependent decrease in the mutagenicity of benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P), 2-amino-3-methyl-imidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ) and 3-amino-1-methyl-5H-pyrido[4,3-b]indole (Trp-P-2). Furthermore, emodin reduced the mutagenicity of IQ by direct inhibition of the hepatic microsomal activation and not by interaction with proximate metabolites of IQ and/or by modification of DNA repair processes in the bacterial cell.
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