Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium L.) extract subchronic 90-day safety study in rats

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Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium L.) extracts are widely used in dietary supplements and bitter oranges are used in various juices and food products. p-Synephrine, the primary active constituent, comprises approximately 90% of total protoalkaloids. This study, performed per OECD 408 guidance, examined the 90-day subchronic safety/toxicity of an extract standardized to 50% p-synephrine at doses of 100, 300 and 1000 mg/kg/day to male and female rats. No adverse effects were observed with respect to any of the observed parameters of clinical signs, functional observations of sensory reactivity, grip strength and motor activity, ophthalmology, body weights, hematology, food consumption, urinalysis, organ weights, as well as gross and microscopic pathology at termination at any of the doses in either sex. Treatment at 1000 mg/kg body weight/day of the extract resulted in non-adverse effects including fully reversible signs of repetitive head burrowing in the bedding material and piloerection for short periods of time in both sexes immediately after administration, which gradually disappeared by treatment day-81. A slight and reversible elevation of BUN and urea levels in male rats, and slight to mild increase in the relative but not absolute heart weights of male and female rats was observed. Based on these results, the no-observed-effect-level (NOEL) for this bitter orange extract standardized to 50% p-synephrine was 300 mg/kg, while the no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) was 1000 mg/kg. The results indicate a high degree of safety for this bitter orange extract.




Deshmukh, N. S., Stohs, S. J., Magar, C. C., Kale, A., & Sowmya, B. (2017). Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium L.) extract subchronic 90-day safety study in rats. Toxicology Reports, 4, 598–613.

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