The anti-mutagenic properties of bile pigments
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Bile pigments, including bilirubin and biliverdin, are endogenous compounds belonging to the porphyrin family of molecules. In the past, bile pigments and bilirubin in particular were thought of as useless by-products of heme catabolism that can be toxic if they accumulate. However, in the past 20 years, research probing the physiological relevance of bile pigments has been mounting, with evidence to suggest bile pigments possess significant antioxidant and anti-mutagenic properties. More specifically, bile pigments are potent peroxyl radical scavengers and inhibit the mutagenic effects of a number of classes of mutagens (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heterocyclic amines, oxidants). Coincidentally, persons with elevated circulating bilirubin concentrations have a reduced prevalence of cancer and cardio-vascular disease. Despite the encouraging in vitro anti-mutagenic effects of bile pigments, relatively little research has been conducted on their inhibitory capacity in bacterial and cultured cell assays of mutation, which might link the existing in vitro and in vivo observations. This is the first review to summarise the published data and it is our hope it will stimulate further research on these potentially preventative compounds.
Mutation Research - Reviews
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified