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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 4647830, 8 pages
Research Article

Evaluation of Toxicological Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Shells from the Pecan Nut Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch and the Possible Association with Its Inorganic Constituents and Major Phenolic Compounds

1Laboratory of Toxicological Genetics, Lutheran University of Brazil (ULBRA), Farroupilha Avenue 8001, 92425-900 Canoas, RS, Brazil
2University of the Campaign Region (URCAMP), Tancredo Neves Avenue 210, 97670000 São Borja, RS, Brazil
3Physics, Statistics, and Mathematics Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG), Barão do Caí 125, 95500000 Santo Antônio da Patrulha, RS, Brazil
4Ion Implantation Laboratory, Physics Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Bento Gonçalves Avenue 9500, 91501970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
5Laboratory of Clinical Pathology, Veterinary Hospital, Lutheran University of Brazil (ULBRA), Farroupilha Avenue 8001, 92425-900 Canoas, RS, Brazil
6Laboratory of Pharmacognosis and Phytochemistry, Lutheran University of Brazil (ULBRA), Farroupilha Avenue 8001, 92425-900 Canoas, RS, Brazil
7Pharmacology Department, Institute of Basic Sciences of Health, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Sarmento Leite Street 500/305, 90050-170 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

Received 13 April 2016; Revised 10 June 2016; Accepted 13 June 2016

Academic Editor: Jairo Kennup Bastos

Copyright © 2016 Luiz Carlos S. Porto et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Industrial processing of the pecan nut Carya illinoinensis K. Koch generated a large amount of shells, which have been used to prepare nutritional supplements and medicinal products; however, the safe use of shells requires assessment. This study evaluated the toxic, genotoxic, and mutagenic effects of pecan shell aqueous extract (PSAE) and the possible contribution of phenolic compounds, ellagic and gallic acids, and inorganic elements present in PSAE to induce toxicity. Results. Levels of inorganic elements like K, P, Cl, and Rb quantified using the Particle-Induced X-Ray Emission method were higher in PSAE than in pecan shells, while Mg and Mn levels were higher in shells. Mice showed neurobehavioral toxicity when given high PSAE doses (200–2,000 mg kg−1). The LD50 was 1,166.3 mg kg−1. However, PSAE (50–200 mg·kg−1) and the phenolic compounds (10–100 mg·kg−1) did not induce DNA damage or mutagenicity evaluated using the comet assay and micronucleus test. Treatment with ellagic acid (10–100 mg·kg−1) decreased triglyceride and glucose levels, while treatments with PSAE and gallic acid had no effect. Conclusion. Pecan shell toxicity might be associated with high concentrations of inorganic elements such as Mn, Al, Cu, and Fe acting on the central nervous system, besides phytochemical components, suggesting that the definition of the safe dose should take into account the consumption of micronutrients.