Aristolochic acid
Aristolochic acids are a family of carcinogenic, mutagenic, and nephrotoxic compounds commonly found in the Aristolochiaceae
The Aristolochiaceae, or the Birthwort family, are a family of flowering plants with 7 genera and about 400 species belonging to the order Piperales...

 family of plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s, including Aristolochia
Aristolochia is a large plant genus with over 500 species. Collectively known as birthworts, pipevines or Dutchman's pipes, they are the namesake of the family . They are widespread and occur in the most diverse climates. Some species, like A. utriformis and A...

and Asarum
Wild ginger
Wild ginger may refer to any of a variety of plants, often with a similar appearance, odour or taste to cultivated ginger. Species involved include:*Any of the Alpinia species, especially A. caerulea....

, which are commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine. Aristolochic acid I is the most abundant of the aristolochic acids and is found in almost all Aristolochia species. Aristolochic acids are often accompanied by aristolactams.

Aristolochic acids may be a causative agent in Balkan nephropathy
Balkan nephropathy
Danubian endemic familial nephropathy , also called Balkan endemic nephropathy, is a form of interstitial nephritis. It was first identified in the 1920s among several small, discrete communities along the Danube River and its major tributaries, in the modern countries of Croatia, Bosnia and...

. Exposure to aristolochic acid is associated with a high incidence of uroepithelial tumorigenesis.

Aristolochic acids are slightly soluble in water, have a melting point between 281 and 286 degrees celsius, and have a bitter flavor.

Further reading

  • Lai M., 2009. Journal of National Cancer Institute. doi:10.1093/jnci/djp467. (Short summary published as "Chinese herbal products containing aristolochic acid were associated with urinary tract cancer" in "HemOnc today", page 28, dated 2010-01-25.)
  • Wing-Tat Poon, Chi-Kong Lai, Albert Yan-Wo Chan, 2007. "Aristolochic Acid Nephropathy: The Hong Kong Perspective." Hong Kong Journal of Nephrology, 9(1):7-14.

External links

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