Nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity evaluation of Crocus sativus stigmas in neonates of nursing mice

J Nephropathol. 2014;3(2):81-5. doi: 10.12860/jnp.2014.16. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Background: Crocus sativus, known as saffron crocus, is best known for the spice saffron. Saffron use spans more than 3500 years, however, its toxicity on neonates during lactation has not yet evaluated.

Objectives: This study was aimed to examine the acute toxicity of saffron on adult mice and its nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity on neonates of lactating mothers that used saffron during lactation.

Materials and methods: In this experimental study, following acute toxicity evaluation, 32 pregnant mice were randomly designated into four equal groups. Following delivery, the mothers of groups 1 to 4 were administered orally (by gavage) normal saline (control group), 500, 1000 or 2000 mg/kg/day of saffron for three weeks, respectively. The newborn's kidney and liver parameters were assessed at the end of the study for possible nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity evaluation. The kidney and liver tissue samples of newborns were histopathologically studied after staining with Hematoxylin & Eosin. Data were analyzed using ANOVA and Scheffe's tests Results: The LD50 value of saffron was calculated to be 4120&plusmn;556 mg/kg in mice. To evaluate lactating toxicity, saffron was administered orally to the mothers once daily for 21 days, after delivery, during lactating period. Saffron increased serum urea nitrogen (p< 0.05). Histological studies indicated that saffron did not have any toxic effect on liver, however, histopathology changes were seen in the kidney of neonates.

Conclusions: From the results of present study, it might be concluded that saffron is a nearly safe spice, however, nursing mothers should avoid high doses of this spice.

Keywords: Acute toxicity; Crocus sativus; Saffron; Subacute toxicity.