Arbutin is a simple phenolic glucoside biosynthesised in many plant families. Some of the everyday foods that contain arbutin are species of the genus Origanum, peaches, cereal products, coffee and tea and Arctostaphyllos uva ursi L. leaves. Arbutin possesses various beneficial effects in the organism, and was confirmed effective in the treatment of urinary tract infections as well as in preventing skin hyperpigmentation. It shows antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and antitumor activity. The aim of this study was to explore potential radioprotective properties of arbutin in concentrations of 11.4 μg/mL, 57 μg/mL, 200 μg/mL and 400 μg/mL administered as a pre-treatment for one hour before exposing human leukocytes to ionising radiation at a therapeutic dose of 2 Gy. The alkaline comet assay was used to establish the levels of primary DNA damage, and cytokinesis-block micronucleus (CBMN) cytome assay to determine the level of cytogenetic damage. None of the tested concentrations of single arbutin showed genotoxic and cytotoxic effects. Even at the lowest tested concentration, 11.4 μg/mL, arbutin demonstrated remarkable potential for radioprotection in vitro, observed both at the level of primary DNA damage, and using CBMN cytome assay. The best dose reduction compared with amifostine was observed after pre-treatment with the highest concentration of arbutin, corresponding to 400 μg/mL. Promising results obtained on the leukocyte model speak in favour of extending similar experiments on other cell and animal models.
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