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Environ Health Perspect. 1993 October; 101(Suppl 3): 53–56.
PMCID: PMC1521159
Research Article

Mutagenicity and human chromosomal effect of stevioside, a sweetener from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni.


Leaves of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni have been popularly used as a sweetener in foods and beverages for diabetics and obese people due to their potent sweetener stevioside. In this report, stevioside and steviol were tested for mutagenicity in Salmonella typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100 and for chromosomal effects on cultured human lymphocytes. Stevioside was not mutagenic at concentrations up to 25 mg/plate, but showed direct mutagenicity to only TA98 at 50 mg/plate. However, steviol did not exhibit mutagenicity in either TA98 or TA100, with or without metabolic activation. No significant chromosomal effect of stevioside and steviol was observed in cultured blood lymphocytes from healthy donors (n = 5). This study indicates that stevioside and steviol are neither mutagenic nor clastogenic in vitro at the limited doses; however, in vivo genotoxic tests and long-term effects of stevioside and steviol are yet to be investigated.

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Selected References

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  • Ishidate M, Jr, Sofuni T, Yoshikawa K, Hayashi M, Nohmi T, Sawada M, Matsuoka A. Primary mutagenicity screening of food additives currently used in Japan. Food Chem Toxicol. 1984 Aug;22(8):623–636. [PubMed]
  • Pezzuto JM, Compadre CM, Swanson SM, Nanayakkara D, Kinghorn AD. Metabolically activated steviol, the aglycone of stevioside, is mutagenic. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Apr;82(8):2478–2482. [PubMed]
  • Compadre CM, Hussain RA, Nanayakkara NP, Pezzuto JM, Kinghorn AD. Mass spectral analysis of some derivatives and in vitro metabolites of steviol, the aglycone of the natural sweeteners, stevioside, rebaudioside A, and rubusoside. Biomed Environ Mass Spectrom. 1988 Feb 15;15(4):211–222. [PubMed]

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