Crude juices of eight Brassica vegetables as well as juices and extracts of spices and phytopharmaceutical preparations from cruciferous vegetables were tested for induction of point mutations in Salmonella TA98 and TA100, repairable DNA damage in E. coli K-12 cells and clastogenic effects in mammalian cells. In bacterial assays, all juices caused genotoxic effects in the absence of metabolic activation, the ranking order being: Brussels sprouts > white cabbage > cauliflower > green cabbage > kohlrabi > broccoli > turnip > black radish. In experiments with mammalian cells, six juices induced structural chromosome aberrations. Brussels sprouts, white and green cabbage caused the strongest effects (800 μl of juice induced a 5-fold increase over the background). In sister chromatid exchange assays, positive results were measured as well, but the effects were less pronounced. With all juices the genotoxic effects seen in mammalian cells were paralleled by a pronounced decrease in cell viability. Column fractionation experiments showed that 70-80% of the total genotoxic activity of the juices is found in the fraction which contains isothiocyanates and other breakdown products of glucosinolates, whereas phenolics and flavonoids contributed to a lesser extent to the overall effects. On the basis of these findings, and considering the negative results obtained with non-cruciferous vegetables (tomato, carrot and green pepper), it seems likely that the genotoxic effects of the juices are due to specific constituents of cruciferous plants such as glucosinolates and/or their breakdown products, in particular, isothiocyanates, which we found previously to be potent genotoxins in bacterial and mammalian cells. Finally, spices (mustards and horse radish paste) and phytopharmaceutical preparations were tested in bacterial assays. Mustards and horse radish caused very weak effects while most of the pharmaceutical preparations gave negative results, except cabbage tablets, which caused a strong and dose dependent induction of his+ revertants in Salmonella TA100. The present findings clearly indicate that cruciferous vegetables contain DNA damaging constituents. These observations are in contrast to earlier findings, which emphasized the antimutagenic effects of vegetable juices and also raise the question whether greatly increased consumption of Brassica vegetables or their concentrated constituents as a means for cancer prevention is indeed recommendable.
- Brassica vegetables