Journal of Applied Toxicology
Volume 24, Issue 4 , Pages 289 - 296
Published Online: 3 Aug 2004

Research Article
Effects of rosmarinic acid against aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin-A-induced cell damage in a human hepatoma cell line (Hep G2)
C. Renzulli 1, F. Galvano 2, L. Pierdomenico 3, E. Speroni 1, M. C. Guerra 1 *
1Department of Pharmacology, University of Bologna, via Irnerio 48, 40126 Bologna, Italy
2Department of Agroforestry, Environmental Science and Technology, University of Reggio Calabria, Piazza San Francesco 7, Reggio Calabria, Italy
3Institute of Histology and General Embryology, University of Bologna, via Belmeloro 8, Bologna, Italy

email: M. C. Guerra (

*Correspondence to M. C. Guerra, Department of Pharmacology, University of Bologna, via Irnerio 48, 40126 Bologna, Italy.

Funded by:
PRIN; Grant Number: Cofin 2000

aflatoxin B1 ochratoxin A rosmarinic acid Hep G2 cells cytotoxicity

Recent findings have suggested that oxidative damage might contribute to the cytotoxicity and carcinogenicity of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). The induction of oxidative stress also plays an important role in the toxicity of another mycotoxin: ochratoxin A (OTA). In this study, the protective effect of rosmarinic acid (Ros A) against AFB1 and OTA-induced cytotoxicity was investigated in a human hepatoma-derived cell line (Hep G2). Rosmarinic acid, a natural phenolic compound contained in many Lamiaceae herbs such as Perilla frutescens, sage, basil and mint, inhibits complement-dependent inflammatory processes and may have therapeutic potential.
The ability of Ros A to reduce radical oxygen species (ROS) production, protein and DNA synthesis inhibition and apoptosis caused by the two mycotoxins was also investigated. Our experiments proved the significant cytoprotective effect of Ros A in vitro from OTA- and AFB1-induced cell damage. In particular, 24-h pretreatment with 50 M Ros A inhibited the cytotoxicity of 10 M AFB1 (by 45%) and 10 M OTA (by 35%) in Hep G2 cells (P < 0.001). Moreover, Ros A dose dependently attenuated ROS production and DNA and protein synthesis inhibition induced by both of the toxins. Similarly, apoptosis cell death was prevented, as demonstrated by reduction of DNA fragmentation and inhibition of caspase-3 activation (P < 0.001). Copyright 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Received: 4 December 2003; Accepted: 22 March 2004
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1002/jat.982 About DOI