In an attempt to study the relative toxicity of anthraquinonic laxatives on intestinal mucosa, we compared in mice the effects of fruit pulp containing sennosides A and B with those of a free anthraquinone, 1-8 dihydroxyanthraquinone. Observations have been made with transmission electron microscopy (EM) after 16 weeks of treatment with the two drugs. Although the doses used in this study were equipotent in terms of laxative activity, no damage to the intestinal tissue was observed with the sennosides. A number of changes, however, were detected in intestinal nervous tissues of all the animals treated with 1-8 dihydroxyanthraquinone, mainly in the form of vacuolisation of the axons, formation of lysosomal structures and in some cases appearances of fibrillar degeneration.
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