Evaluation of Fetal Toxicity of HESA-A, a Natural Anticancer Agent, in Mice

Document Type: Original Article


1 Assistant Professor of Pharmacodynamics & Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Researcher, Cancer Research Institute, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran Iran.

3 Associate Professor of Microbiology, School of Pharmacy, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

4 Instructor, Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan, Iran.


Introduction: HESA-A is an active natural compound with herbal and marine origin. It contains inorganic, organic and aqueous fractions, and has shown antioxidant, cytotoxic and anticancer effects. In this study, the teratogenic effects of HESA-A in mice have been evaluated. Methods: Several doses of HESA-A were administered orally to pregnant mice on days 6 to 14 of gestation. Various parameters in pregnant mice and embryos during and after pregnancy were evaluated and recorded. At the end of pregnancy, embryos were sectioned out and studied for external morphological abnormalities and by specific skeletal staining for skeletal malformations. Results: Weight gain of pregnant mice showed that only the highest dose (800 mg/kg) caused gain retardation. Also, only the highest dose led to reduction of uterus weight, number of viable embryos, and weight and crown-lump length of embryos. Increase in fetal resorption by the highest dose of HESA-A was another important observation. Low and medium doses of HESA-A did not cause any significant external or skeletal abnormalities. However, higher doses caused embryo malformations such as short limbs, spinal abnormalities, dermal cysts, microphtalmia, and cleft palate. Conclusion: According to this study, only high doses of HESA-A, which are many times higher than the usual therapeutic doses, may cause embryonic toxicity. Mechanisms of these abnormalities are not clear and need to be determined.