Liver toxicity and carcinogenicity in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice exposed to Kava Kava

Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Nov;49(11):2820-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2011.07.067. Epub 2011 Aug 18.


Kava Kava is an herbal supplement used as an alternative to antianxiety drugs. Although some reports suggest an association of Kava Kava with hepatotoxicity , it continues to be used in the United States due to lack of toxicity characterization. In these studies F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice were administered Kava Kava extract orally by gavage in corn oil for two weeks, thirteen weeks or two years. Results from prechronic studies administered Kava Kava at 0.125 to 2g/kg body weight revealed dose-related increases in liver weights and incidences of hepatocellular hypertrophy. In the chronic studies, there were dose-related increases in the incidences of hepatocellular hypertrophy in rats and mice administered Kava Kava for up to 1g/kg body weight. This was accompanied by significant increases in incidences of centrilobular fatty change. There was no treatment- related increase in carcinogenic activity in the livers of male or female rats in the chronic studies. Male mice showed a significant dose-related increase in the incidence of hepatoblastomas. In female mice, there was a significant increase in the combined incidence of hepatocellular adenoma and carcinoma in the low and mid dose groups but not in the high dose group. These findings were accompanied by several nonneoplastic hepatic lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenicity Tests
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury* / pathology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Kava / toxicity*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Sex Characteristics