Embryotoxicity of Psoralea corylifolia L. In Vivo and In Vitro Studies

Min XU*, Xiao Ying TIAN, Kelvin S Y LEUNG, Kam C. Lee, Tak C. Chow, Bin Deng, Chi M. Yiu, Chi I. Chow, Zhongzhen ZHAO, Zhijun YANG, Fong W. Fun, Ting T. Xiao, Wei Xu, Ping X. Deng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Psoralea corylifolia L. (PC) was commonly used to treat miscarriages clinically. The aim of this study was to examine its embryotoxicity in mice and embryonic stem cells (ESCs). METHODS: Quality control of PC extract including reference marker compounds, pesticide residues, and heavy metals was authenticated with HPLC, Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Pregnant mice were randomly assigned into five groups and dosed with distilled water (G1), PC extract of 2 (G2), 4 (G3), or 8 g/kg/day (G4), and vitamin A (G5). Meanwhile, half maximal inhibitory concentration values for ESCs and 3T3 cells were identified in a cytotoxicity assay, and apoptosis in neuroepithelium was assessed by transmission electron microscopy. RESULTS: In the G4 group, a statistically significant decrease in the total fetus, live fetus, and gravid uterine weight, and increase in the resorbed fetus, postimplantation loss, and neuroepithelial apoptosis as well as maternal liver-weight were found (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: PC extracts at 8 g/kg/day might cause fetal toxicity and maternal liver damage in mice, although it did not cause typical malformation and ESC's cytotoxicity in this experiment. Our data suggested that high dosage and long-term administration of PC preparations may not be safe for pregnant women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-394
Number of pages9
JournalBirth Defects Research Part B - Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Embryology
  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Embryonic stem cell
  • Embryotoxicity
  • Mouse
  • Psoralea corylifolia L
  • Segment II study


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