The effect of rosemary on the mutagenic activity of heterocyclic amines extracted from common food consumed in Saudi Arabia

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Mar;61(2):192-203. doi: 10.3109/09637480903294953.


Meat intake may increase cancer risk as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are one of the food mutagens produced in meat cooked at high temperature. The consumption of meat in Saudi Arabia is high compared with other developing countries and the incidence of cancer has been increasing during the past 30 years. The present study aimed to quantitatively determine the effect of rosemary on the mutagenic activity and the amount of HCAs formed in beef Shawerma, grilled chicken and fried liver as an attempt to minimize the carcinogenic risk of HCAs formed in these commonly consumed meat dishes. Surprisingly, rosemary extracts (2%, 5%, 10% and 15%) apparently enhanced the total amount of HCAs measured in beef Shawerma, whereas 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) was the only mutagenic amine inhibited by 2% rosemary with a reduction up to 61.6% compared with control. In grilled chicken, the total amount of HCAs measured in 2% rosemary samples was reduced seven-fold lower than the control level, whereas PhIp and 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido[4,3-b]indole (TrpP1) were inhibited to non-detectable levels. These data demonstrate that 2% rosemary may play an important role in attenuating the production of PhIP in both Shawerma and fried chicken. In fried liver, HCAs were not detected either in the control or in 2% treated samples whereas augmented levels of TrpP1 were measured in 5%, 10% and 15% rosemary. The mutagenic activity of HCAs extracted from all beef Shawerma and grilled chicken treated samples increased over the control sample using Salmonella typhimurium TA100. In fried liver, the mutagenic activity detected in the control sample was higher than treated samples, which suggests that S. typhimurium TA100 might be less sensitive in detecting the mutagenic response of TrpP1 extracted from the real food system. We believe more research is needed to assess the role of antioxidants in the formation of HCAs in order to optimize both safety and quality of our diets.

MeSH terms

  • Amines / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Animals
  • Antimutagenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cooking
  • Diet
  • Imidazoles / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Mutagens*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves
  • Rosmarinus*
  • Salmonella typhimurium
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Spices


  • Amines
  • Antimutagenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Imidazoles
  • Mutagens
  • Plant Extracts
  • 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo(4,5-b)pyridine