Toxicity and Carcinogenicity Studies ofGinkgo bilobaExtract in Rat and Mouse: Liver, Thyroid, and Nose Are Targets

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Abstract

Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is a popular herbal supplement that is used to improve circulation and brain function. In spite of widespread human exposure to relatively high doses over potentially long periods of time, there is a paucity of data from animal studies regarding the toxicity and carcinogenicity associated with GBE. In order to fill this knowledge gap, 3-month and 2-year toxicity and carcinogenicity studies with GBE administered by oral gavage to B6C3F1/N mice and F344/N rats were performed as part of the National Toxicology Program's Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines Initiative. The targets of GBE treatment were the liver, thyroid, and nose. These targets were consistent across exposure period, sex, and species, albeit with varying degrees of effect observed among studies. Key findings included a notably high incidence of hepatoblastomas in male and female mice and evidence of carcinogenic potential in the thyroid gland of both mice and rats. Various nonneoplastic lesions were observed beyond control levels in the liver, thyroid gland, and nose of rats and mice administered GBE. Although these results cannot be directly extrapolated to humans, the findings fill an important data gap in assessing risk associated with GBE use.

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