D Other Biological Activities

Turmeric and curcumin are beneficial as food additives for human health. These products have been shown to reverse the aflatoxin-induced liver damage produced by feeding AFB1 (5 |^g/day for 14 days). In addition, aqueous extract of turmeric (10 mg/ml) inhibits the toxin production by 99%. The concentration of the extracts needed for 50% inhibition of toxin production is approximately 2.5 mg/ml. It is known that AFB1 produced by Aspergillus parasiticus induces extensive changes in liver: fatty acid changes, granular degeneration, necrosis, and bile duct hyperplasia. In animals treated with AFB1, the presence of turmeric has almost completely reversed necrosis and there are only moderate fatty acid changes. Turmeric inhibits the production of toxins in foods, without inhibiting the growth of mycelium.118

Turmeric products have also been suggested as antiaging and atheroma-prevent-ing agents because of their strong antioxidant activities, which are higher than dl-a-tocopherol.119-121

6. Monascus

Monascus pigments enhance IgE production at 1 mM in rat spleen lymphocytes, but inhibit it at lower concentrations. This information is important because most aller gies against food or environmental allergens are mainly induced by the reaction classified as type I allergy, in which induction of allergen-specific IgE plays an essential role. Thus, Monascus pigment may be considered an anti-allergenic substance. In addition, it is clear that lipophylic coloring can be a stimulator of the humoral immune system.122

Red and yellow pigments of Monascus anka and M. purpureus do not induce mutagenesis and they inhibit the mutagenicity of 3-hydroxyamino-1-methyl-5H-pyridol[4,4-b]indole) [Trp-P-2(NHOH)]. Monascus dyes inhibit the mutagenicity of metabolically activated 2-amino-3-methylimidazol[4,5-/]quinoline (IQ), 2-amino-3,4-dimethylimidazo-[4,5-f]quinoline (MeIQ), and cooked-meat extract. Monascus lowers the mutagenicity of Trp-P-2(NHOH) 55 to 65%. Monascus yellow strongly inhibits the mutagenicity of activated MeIQ: 95% inhibition with 0.5 mg of the dye. Monascus red inhibits the mutagenicity of a cooked-meat dose up to 85%, and it shows a weak antimutagenicity toward activated IQ and MeIQ, showing the same suppressing effect against Trp-P-2(NHOH). Thus, these natural colorants can inhibit the mutagenicity of activated forms of food pyrolysate mutagens. Further screening of colors in plants and other natural sources for their antimutagenic activities is important.123

Oral administration of Monascus pigment suppresses tumor promotion by tet-radecanoyl phorbol acetate (TPA) in mice following initiation by 7,12-dimethyl-benz[a]anthracene. Treatment with Monascus pigment causes a 66 and 58% reduction in the average number of tumors per mouse at week 20. There was no difference regarding body weight between the control group and two treated groups during the experiment. Therefore, foods and additives may prove to be important for the chemoprevention of cancer.124

Another interesting biological activity of Monascus is associated with its antibiotic activities against Bacillus subtilis and Candida pseudotropicalis. The active compounds have been reported as rubropunctatin and monascorubrin. Immunosup-pressive activity on mouse T-splenocytes has been most pronounced with compounds monascin and ankaflavin. The immunosuppressive effect of monascin is more pronounced than that of rubropunctatin and monascorubrin. Conversely, rubropunctatin and monascorubrin show substantially higher antibiotic effects. Monascus preparations have also shown favorable dietetic effects, involving reduction of serum cholesterol and triglycerides in mice.125

7. Iridoids

Geniposide causes a propulsive action in the large intestine by examining the movement and evacuation of a charcoal meal in the intestines. Geniposide is abundant in the fruits of Gardenia spp. In fact, it has been established that the propulsive agent in the large intestine is the aglucone genipin.126 The iridoid glycoside, 8-acetylhar-pagide, which is obtained from Ajuga decumbens, has shown an inhibitory effect on two-stage carcinogenesis test of mouse skin tumors induced by nitric oxide donor, (±)-(E)-methyl-2-[(E)-hydroxyimino]-5-nitro-6-methoxy-3-hexeneamide (NOR 1) as an initiator and TPA as a promoter.

8-Acetylharpagide shows strong inhibitory effects on Epstein-Barr virus early antigen (EBV-EA) induction and mouse skin tumorigenesis induced by DMBA and TPA. It is suggested to be the cancer chemopreventive agent on other chemical tests.127

Therefore, the anti-tumor-promoting effects of 8-acetylharpagide have been examined by the two-stage carcinogenesis test of mouse hepatic tumor, in which diethylnitrosamine (DEN) and probasin gene promoter (PB) have been used as an initiator and as a promoter, respectively. The iridoid-treated group showed a marked reduction in hepatic hyperplastic nodules formation; more than 50% inhibition in the total number of hepatic nodules and more than 45% reduction in the percentage of mice with the nodules of liver. The 8-acetylharpagide iridoid inhibits the tumorinitiation induced by NOR-1 by oral administration for 2 weeks. It also inhibits the initiation stages on two-stage carcinogenesis induced by DEN and PB by oral administration. Consequently, the iridoid 8-acetylharpagide may be valuable as a source of chemopreventive agents.127

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