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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Further study of the genetic toxicity of gentian violet.

The genetic toxicity of gentian violet was studied with the Ames and the Rosenkranz bacterial assays as well as the cytogenetic assays (Chinese hamster ovary cells in vitro in the presence of rat-liver S-9 fractions, the chicken-embryo and mouse-bone-marrow cells in vivo). Gentian violet was found to be toxic but not mutagenic in the Ames assay. However, it was active in the Rosenkranz assay causing reparable DNA damage. The presence of S-9 in the in vitro cytogenetic assay and in the bacterial assays showed that the activity of gentian violet could be reduced or eliminated. In the in vivo assays, gentian violet was not clastogenic and failed to induce sister-chromatid exchanges. However, gentian violet proved to be highly toxic to growing chick embryos at high dosage and depressed mitotic activities in mouse bone marrow after prolonged treatment. Our study suggested that gentian violet can be inactivated by the liver detoxification system. However, it is potentially hazardous to cells that are exposed to the dye directly (e.g. skin epithelium and cell lining of the gastrointestinal tract).[1]


  1. Further study of the genetic toxicity of gentian violet. Au, W., Butler, M.A., Bloom, S.E., Matney, T.S. Mutat. Res. (1979) [Pubmed]
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