Antimutagenic and antioxidant effects of a South African traditional formulation used as an immune booster

Research Article
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30 March 2016

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The traditional medicines sector in South Africa is still largely unregulated despite legislation aimed at regulating the practice being in place. The HIV and AIDS epidemic has fuelled demand for traditional medicines, with many patients consulting traditional health practitioners who offer different treatments, including herbal immune boosters. This study investigated the mutagenic and antioxidant effects of the widely sold herbal immune booster, uMakhonya®. The Ames test was used for analysis of the genototoxic effects while the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) assay was used to evaluate cell cytotoxicity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and THP-1 monocytes. To evaluate the antioxidant effects the malondialdehyde (MDA) quantification, the nitric oxide and 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) assays were used. UMakhonya® doses of up to 5000 μg/mL were not genotoxic in the Ames test. UMakhonya® was shown to induce dose-dependent cytotoxicity in both PBMCs and THP-1 cells with doses ranging from 500 μg/ mL to 1000 μg/mL, showing significant (p<0.05) toxicity. UMakhonya® was able to significantly (p<0.05) reduce nitrite radicals at 100 μg/mL while lower doses were not effective when compared to samples stimulated by lipopolysaccharide only. Non-cytotoxic doses of uMakhonya® showed significant (p<0.05) lipid peroxide scavenging ability in supernatants while this scavenging ability was considerably reduced intracellularly. In the DPPH assay, when both uMakhonya® and ascorbic acid were reconstituted in buffered saline, the traditional herbal remedy showed better radical scavenging abilities. Therefore further studies on the genotoxicity of uMakhonya®, when metabolically activated, and its antioxidant effects in in-vivo models are warranted.


traditional medicines; regulations; genotoxicity; antioxidants; immune cells
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