Botanicals and botanical extracts are often used to relief allergies, inflammation, pain and other discomfort or to improve (mental) health. Unfortunately, the use of botanicals is not without risk. The Botanical Safety Consortium (BSC) was established in October 2019 by the US-FDA, NIEHS and HESI to generate a scientifically based integration of existing safety data and toxicology tools to evaluate botanical safety. The mission of BSC’s Neurotoxicity Working group is to develop screening strategies that can reliably identify potential neurotoxic botanicals.
For different fields of toxicology, including neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity, the BSC identified a number of assays and approaches that may be suitable to assess the hazard of botanical extracts. Microelectrode array (MEA) recordings of primary rat cortical neuronal cultures and human cardiomyocytes are among the selected assays to evaluate the safety of a test set of 16 botanical extracts that was compiled based on existing clinical, in vivo and in vitro evidence for toxicity data. In addition to acute exposure measurements of neuronal and cardiac function, the cytotoxic potential of the selected botanicals will be evaluated.