Evaluation of the mutagenic activity of chrysin, a flavonoid inhibitor of the aromatization process

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2012;75(16-17):1000-11. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2012.696517.


Chrysin is one of the natural flavonoids present in plants, and large amounts are present in honey and propolis. In addition to anticancer, antioxidation, and anti-inflammatory activities, chrysin has also been reported to be an inhibitor of aromatase, an enzyme converting testosterone into estrogen. The present study evaluated the mutagenicity of this flavonoid using micronucleus (MN) with HepG2 cells and Salmonella. Cell survival after exposure to different concentrations of chrysin was also determined using sulforhodamine B (SRB) colorimetric assay in HepG2 cells and the influence of this flavonoid on growth of cells in relation to the cell cycle and apoptosis. The MN test showed that from 1 to 15 μM of this flavonoid mutagenic activity was noted in HepG2 cells. The Salmonella assay demonstrated a positive response to the TA100 Salmonella strain in the presence or absence of S9, suggesting that this compound acted on DNA, inducing base pair substitution before or after metabolism via cytochrome P-450. The SRB assay illustrated that chrysin promoted growth inhibition of HepG2 cells in both periods studied (24 and 48 h). After 24 h of exposure it was noted that the most significant results were obtained with a concentration of 50 μM, resulting in 83% inhibition and SubG0 percentage of 12%. After 48 h of incubation cell proliferation inhibition rates (97% at 50 μM) were significantly higher. Our results showed that chrysin is a mutagenic and cytotoxic compound in cultured human HepG2 cells and Salmonella typhimurium. Although it is widely accepted that flavonoids are substances beneficial to health, one must evaluate the risk versus benefit relationship and concentrations of these substances to which an individual may be exposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aromatase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Estradiol / chemistry
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Molecular Structure
  • Mutagenesis
  • Salmonella / drug effects*
  • Testosterone / chemistry
  • Testosterone / metabolism


  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Flavonoids
  • chrysin
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol