The Cynara scolymus (artichoke) is widely consumed as tea or food and shows important therapeutic properties. However, few studies have assessed the possible toxic effects of artichoke extracts. This study evaluates genotoxic and mutagenic activities of artichoke leaf aqueous extract in mice using the comet assay and the micronucleus test. Leaf extracts were given by gavage (500 mg/kg, 1000 mg/kg, and 2000 mg/kg) for 3 consecutive days. Extract composition was investigated using phytochemical screening and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). In addition, antioxidant capacity was analyzed through the diphenyl-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and xanthine oxidase assay. Phytochemical screening detected the presence of phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and saponins. HPLC analyses indicated the presence of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, isoquercetrin, and rutin. Extracts showed a dose-dependent free radical scavenging effect of DPPH and an inhibitory effect of xanthine oxidase. The genotoxic results showed that leaf extracts did not increase micronuclei in peripheral blood cells. Compared to the control group, a significant increase in comet assay values was observed only in bone marrow of group treated with 2000 mg/kg, the highest dose tested, indicating that artichoke tea should be consumed with moderation.
Practical Application: This is the first report of in vivo mutagenic and genotoxic evaluation with C. scolymus. The present study revealed leaf aqueous extract from artichoke shows lack of mutagenicity in vivo, and low genotoxicity and antioxidant activity; indicating that artichoke tea should be consumed with moderation.