Borage (Borago officinalis L.) seed oil has been used as a treatment for various degenerative diseases. Many useful properties of this oil are attributed to its high gamma linolenic acid content (GLA, 18:3 ω-6). The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the safety and suitability of the use of borage seed oil, along with one of its active components, GLA, with respect to DNA integrity, and to establish possible in vivo toxic and in vitro cytotoxic effects. In order to measure these properties, five types of assays were carried out: toxicity, genotoxicity, antigenotoxicity, cytotoxicity (using the promyelocytic leukaemia HL60 cell line), and life span (in vivo analysis using the Drosophila model). Results showed that i) Borage seed oil is not toxic to D. melanogaster at physiological concentrations below 125 μl/ml and the studies on GLA indicated non-toxicity at the lowest concentration analyzed ii) Borage seed oil and GLA are DNA safe (non-genotoxic) and antimutagenic compared to hydrogen peroxide, thereby confirming its antioxidant capacity; iii) Borage seed oil and GLA exhibited cytotoxic activity in low doses (IC50 of 1 μl/ml and 0.087 mM, respectively) iv) Low doses of borage seed oil (0.19%) increased the health span of D. melanogaster; and v) GLA significantly decreased the life span of D. melanogaster. Based on the antimutagenic and cytotoxic effects along with the ability to increase the health span, we propose supplementation with borage seed oil rather than GLA, because it protects DNA by modulating oxidative genetic damage in D. melanogaster, increases the health span and exerts cytotoxic activity towards promyelocytic HL60 cells.
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