Scientific information regarding plants used in folk medicine in the form of teas and their effect on human health or on genetic material has been the subject of many different types of investigation. The antimutagenic activity of two plants Maytenus ilicifolia and Peltastes peltatus, both rich in compounds of the flavonoid and tannin groups and frequently employed in folk medicine, was studied. Antimutagenicity was determined against known mutagenic substances (4-oxide-1-nitroquinoline, sodium azide, 2-nitrofluorene, aflatoxin B(1), 2-aminofluorene and 2-aminoanthracene), using the Salmonella/microsome assay. Infusions of P.peltatus showed high cytotoxicity and a co-mutagenic effect for induction of base pair substitution mutations with 4-oxide-1-nitroquinoline (-S9 mix). Infusions of M.ilicifolia produced similar effects for frameshift and base pair substitution mutations. With the mutagens 2-nitrofluorene (TA98) and sodium azide (TA100) no significant enhancement effects (co-mutagenic effects) were observed and inhibition of mutagenic activity and cytotoxicity were also diminished. In assays evaluating antimutagenic activity in the presence of metabolic activation utilizing S9 mix, high and significant inhibition of aflatoxin B(1)-, 2-aminofluorene- and 2-aminoanthracene-induced mutagenicity was observed in the presence of the infusions using both TA98 and TA100 and employing doses ranging from 25 to 500 mg/plate. Seventy-five percent of the doses tested exhibited a significant or suggestive decrease in induced mutagenicity with the infusion of M.ilicifolia. With the infusion of P.peltatus significant or suggestive antimutagenic responses were observed with 50% of the doses evaluated. Complexity was clearly noted in the responses observed in the interaction of aqueous extracts of M.ilicifolia and P.peltastes with the genetic material and metabolites generated by the S9 mix played an important role in the protection of DNA.
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