Plant physiology and biochemistry : PPB

Exploration of acute genotoxic effects and antigenotoxic potential of gambogic acid using Allium cepa assay.

PMID 28806720


The plant derived xanthanoid gambogic acid (GA) is well known for its anticancer activity. To date, biological actions of GA on plant system have not been reported. In the present study, we evaluated the potential acute genotoxic activity of GA, and its antigenotoxic potential against H2O2 induced genetic damage using Allium cepa root chromosomal aberration assay under hydroponic conditions. There was a significant decrease in the percentage of mitotic index/prophase index with the increase in clastogenicity percentage in a dose and time-dependent manner when Allium cepa bulbs were exposed to GA at 0.1 mM and 1 mM concentration for 1 h, 2 h, and 4 h. Total genomic DNA integrity analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis and cell viability revealed pronounced DNA degradation and loss of viability when treated with 1  mM GA for 4 h. In situ histochemical localization by Schiff's staining and 3, 3-diaminobenzidine confirmed increased levels of lipid peroxide and H2O2 in GA treated roots respectively. Scanning electron microscopy and FT-IR suggested surface damage and biomolecular intervention of GA in root cells. In addition, possible antigenotoxic effect of GA at lower concentration was explored by employing standard assays using H2O2. We observed a higher percentage of nuclear lesions upon treatment with 3% H2O2 (97.21 ± 0.76) that reduced significantly after modulatory treatment with 0.01 mM GA (70.44 ± 4.42). The results suggest that GA is a Janus-faced compound as it demonstrates a genotoxic activity at higher doses and genoprotective action at lower precise doses.

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Gambogic acid, ≥95% (HPLC), powder