The micronucleus test and mitotic chromosome analysis were used to study the in vivo mutagenic activity of ribavirin on bone marrow cells of Swiss albino mice. To determine the incidence of micronuclei, mice were injected i.p. twice, at an interval of 24 h, with the drug at doses of 20, 100 and 200 mg/kg. Animals were killed 6 h after the second dose and bone marrow was examined for the presence of micronuclei in developing erythrocytes. Ribavirin significantly (P < 0.05) induced micronuclei in polychromatic erythrocytes at all doses. A study was conducted to investigate the cytogenetic effect of the drug on mitotic chromosomes. Ribavirin at 200 mg/kg/day was administered to mice for 3 and 5 days. Repeated treatment with the high dose of ribavirin produced a highly significant (P < 0.02) increase in abnormal metaphase spreads. The results indicate that ribavirin is mutagenic to bone marrow cells of mice as evaluated by the micronucleus test and by chromosome analysis.
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