Evaluation of the mutagenic effects of Passiflora edulis Sims (maracujá) tincture on the Allium cepa test system

Schirley Aparecida Costalonga, Maria do Carmo Pimentel Batitucci

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Introduction: ever since prehistoric times, plants have been used by the population to treat all sorts of diseases. One of the most popular medicinal species in Brazil and other Latin American countries is Passiflora edulis Sims, of the family Passifloraceae and known as maracujá, which is widely used to treat nervous disorders. However, in order to validate its safety it is necessary to determine whether the plant has the capacity to change the cell cycle and cause toxic effects on the genetic material.
Objective: evaluate the toxic, aneugenic and clastogenic effect of Passiflora edulis Sims tincture on the initial development and mitotic index of meristematic onion root cells using the Allium cepa test system.
Methods: Allium cepa seeds were subjected to continuous and discontinuous treatments (acute - 20 h and chronic - 72 h) with distilled water (witness), 20 % alcohol and three concentrations of Passiflora edulis tincture (6, 12 and 24 drops).
Results: the mitotic index showed a significant reduction at concentrations of 6 drops (continuous treatment), 12 and 24 drops (acute discontinuous treatment - 20 h), and all concentrations in the chronic discontinuous treatment - 72 h. The aneugenic effect occurred at concentrations of 24 drops in both discontinuous treatments, whereas a clastogenic effect was observed at concentrations of 12 and 24 drops in the two discontinuous treatments.
Conclusions: the tincture showed great mutagenic potential, and was responsible for inducing damage to the cell cycle. Validation of its use in human beings requires further testing.