March 20, 2017 by Owen Green & Louise Youngs


On the final day of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), Dr Owen Green and Dr Louise Youngs attended the Symposium on ‘Evaluating the reproductive and developmental effects of botanical dietary supplements’ chaired by Kembra Howdeshell (NIEHS/NTP, US). Use of botanical dietary supplement is widespread, with an estimated $36.7 billion US sales in 2014. There is a public perception that botanicals are safer than pharmaceuticals. However, there is often inadequate data to support the safety of these products, and the complex chemical composition of extracts can vary significantly depending on the source material and manufacturing process (i.e. solvent extraction). The session applied rigorous evaluation methods to measure efficacy, toxicity and chemopreventive potential of botanicals.

Mary Hixon (Gradient, US) evaluated the reproductive effects of caffeine, utilising mouse models and toxicogenomic approaches. Natasha Catlin (NIEHS/NTP, US) discussed the evaluation of vinpocetine, a phosphodiesterase 1 (PDE1) selective inhibitor, which has been shown to increase whole litter resorptions and post-implantation loss in rodents. However, higher doses in rabbits failed to show comparable effects, suggesting species differences in the metabolism of Vinpocetine. Connie Gryniewicz-Ruzicka (US FDA/CDER, US) discussed the use of Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) in the screening of male enhancement supplements for the presence of undeclared drug products. To close the session Karen VanderMolen (Procter & Gamble Company, US) provided an industry approach to testing the safety of botanicals, detailing a collaborative evaluation with Eurofins on Cynaropicrin, a sesquiterpene lactone found in artichoke.