Toxicological evaluation of ethanolic extract fromStevia rebaudianaBertoni leaves: Genotoxicity and subchronic oral toxicity

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Abstract

Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaves have a long history of use as an abundant source of sweetener. The aqueous extract of stevia leaves and the predominant constitutes steviol glycosides have been intensively investigated. However, rare studies provided toxicological evaluation of bioactive components in the polar extract regarding their safety on human health. This study aimed to evaluate the toxicity of ethanolic extract of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaves through a battery of in vitro and in vivo tests. Negative results were unanimously obtained from bacterial reverse mutation assay, mouse bone marrow micronucleus assay and mouse sperm malformation assay. Oral administration at dietary levels of 1.04%, 2.08% and 3.12% for 90 days did not induce significant behavioral, hematological, clinical, or histopathological changes in rats. Significant reduction of cholesterol, total protein and albumin was observed in female animals only at high dose level. The results demonstrated that Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaves ethanolic extract, which is rich in isochlorogenic acids, does not possess adverse effects through oral administration in this study. Our data provided supportive evidence for the safety of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni leaves that may potentially be used in functional foods as well as nutritional supplements beyond sweetner.

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