Antimutagenesis against N-nitroso compounds contribute to prevention of human cancer. We have found that Glycyrrhiza aspera ethanolic extract exhibits antimutagenic activity against N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) using the Ames assay with Salmonella typhimurium TA1535. In the present study, eight purified components from Glycyrrhiza, namely glabridin, glycyrrhetinic acid, glycyrrhizin, licochalcone A, licoricesaponin H2, licoricesaponin G2, liquiritigenin and liquiritin were evaluated for their antimutagenicity against MNU in the Ames assay with S. typhimurium TA1535. Glycyrrhetinic acid, glycyrrhizin, licoricesaponin G2, licoricesaponin H2 and liquiritin did not show the antimutagenicity against MNU in S. typhimurium TA1535. Glabridin, licochalcone A and liquiritigenin reduced revertant colonies derived from MNU in S. typhimurium TA1535 without showing cytotoxic effects, indicating that these compounds possess antimutagenic activity against MNU. The inhibitory activity of glabridin and licochalcone A was more effective than that of liquiritigenin. Thus, Glycyrrhiza contains antimutagenic components against DNA alkylating, direct-acting carcinogens.
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