Isolation and studies of the mutagenic activity in the Ames test of flavonoids naturally occurring in medical herbs

Mutat Res. 1990 Mar;240(3):209-16. doi: 10.1016/0165-1218(90)90060-f.


Quercetin, rhamnetin, isohamnetin, apigenin and luteolin were isolated from medicinal herbs: Erigeron canadensis L., Anthyllis vulneraria L. and Pyrola chloranta L. The mutagenicity of these naturally occurring flavonoids was tested by the Ames method with S. typhimurium strains TA1535, TA1538, TA97, TA98, TA100 and TA102 in the presence and absence of metabolic activation. Of the above flavonoids only quercetin and rhamnetin revealed mutagenic activity in the Ames test. Quercetin induced point mutations in strains TA97, TA98, TA100 and TA102 of S. typhimurium. The presence of S9 rat liver microsome fraction markedly enhanced the mutagenic activity of quercetin in these strains. Rhamnetin appeared to be a much weaker mutagen in the Ames test. The compound induced mutations in strains TA97, TA98 and TA100 of S. typhimurium but only in the presence of metabolic activation. Comparison of the structure of the studied flavonoids with their mutagenic activity indicates that the mutagenicity of flavonoids is dependent on the presence of hydroxyl groups in the 3' and 4' positions of the B ring, and that the presence of a free hydroxy or methoxy group in the 7 position of the A ring also probably contributes to the appearance of mutagenic activity of flavonoids in the Ames test. It also appeared that the presence of methoxy groups, particularly in the B ring of the flavonoid molecule, markedly decreases the mutagenic activity of the compound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Flavonoids / isolation & purification
  • Flavonoids / toxicity*
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Mutagens*
  • Plants, Medicinal / analysis*
  • Quercetin / analogs & derivatives
  • Quercetin / isolation & purification
  • Quercetin / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Salmonella typhimurium / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Flavonoids
  • Mutagens
  • rhamnetin
  • Quercetin