Mutagenicity and antimutagenicity testing of six chemicals associated with the pungent properties of specific spices as revealed by the Ames Salmonella/microsomal assay

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1995 Feb;28(2):248-58. doi: 10.1007/BF00217624.


Three compounds, capsaicin, thymol and borneol, were initially screened for mutagenic activity using Salmonella typhimurium strains TA97, TA98 and TA100, with and without S9 metabolic activation, and 20 min standard preincubation time. Three other compounds, allyl isothiocyanate, eugenol and cinnamaldehyde, were screened for mutagenic activity as above, but with a prolonged, nonstandard preincubation time of up to 120 minutes. All six test compounds used in the assays are associated with the pungent properties of some specific spices in which the test compounds can be found to exist naturally. The first objective of this study was to observe if mutagenic activity can be correlated to the pungent properties of these six test compounds. However, due to toxicity and the observation that only capsaicin was mutagenic, using strain TA100 in the presence of S9 metabolic activation, it was not possible to deduce any relationship between mutagenicity and the test chemicals' pungent properties. Naturally occurring capsaicin, found in the spice Capsicum annum, was detected and quantified using thin layer and gas chromatographic techniques. The final objective was to detect the presence of antimutagenic factor(s) in C. annum that would suppress the mutagenicity of capsaicin. When the mutagenic capsaicin and 2-aminoanthracene were assayed in the presence of C. annum acetone extract, using strain TA100 with S9 metabolic activation, the mutagenic response of both the mutagens were reduced by approximately 50%. Assaying capsaicin and 2-aminoanthracene in the presence of chlorophyll, the mutagenic response of the two mutagens was reduced by less than 40%. From this observation it was inferred that chlorophyll can successfully suppress the mutagenicity activities of capsaicin and 2-aminoanthracene, together with other antimutagenic factors that were present in the acetone extract of C. annum.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / analogs & derivatives
  • Acrolein / toxicity
  • Antimutagenic Agents / toxicity*
  • Camphanes / toxicity
  • Capsaicin / toxicity
  • Eugenol / toxicity
  • Flavoring Agents / toxicity
  • Food Preservatives / toxicity
  • Isothiocyanates / toxicity
  • Mutagenesis / drug effects
  • Mutagenesis / genetics
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Spices / toxicity*
  • Thymol / toxicity


  • Antimutagenic Agents
  • Camphanes
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Food Preservatives
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Thymol
  • Eugenol
  • Acrolein
  • allyl isothiocyanate
  • isoborneol
  • Capsaicin
  • cinnamaldehyde