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Lin Li, Beibei Chen, Tian An, Hao Zhang, Bingke Xia, Rui Li, Ruyuan Zhu, Yimiao Tian, Lili Wang, Dandan Zhao, Fangfang Mo, Yu Li, Ge Yang, Alexander N Orekhov, Marc Prentki, Dongwei Zhang, Guangjian Jiang, Xiaofeng Zhu

J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Jan 25;113810. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.113810. Online ahead of print.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Sperm infertility and testicular atrophy are symptoms associated with aging. BaZiBuShen formula (BZBS), a patented Chinese herbal prescription composed of Semen Cuscutae, Fructus Lycii, Epimedii Folium, Fructus Schisandrae Sphenantherae, Fructus Cnidii, Fructus Rosae Laevigatae, Semen Allii Tuberosi., Radix Morindae Officinalis, Herba Cistanches, Fructus Rubi, Radix Rehmanniae Recens, Radix Cyathulae, Radix Ginseng, Cervi Cornu Pantotrichum, Hippocampus, and Fuctus Toosendan, has been used as a kidney-tonifying and anti-aging drug as well as for the treatment of impotence and male infertility in traditional Chinese medicine.

Aim of the study: We aimed at investigating whether BZBS preserves sperm and testes morphology in aging mice, and to explore the underlying mechanisms.

Materials and methods: BZBS was orally administered to aging mice induced by D-galactose (D-gal) and NaNO2 for 65 days. Sperm quality and testes pathophysiological alterations were examined by a Semen Analysis System, hematoxylin-eosin staining, transmission electron microscopy, and mitochondrial complex IV activity. In addition, serum levels of total antioxidant capacity (TAC), malondialdehyde (MDA), 8-hydroxy-desoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG), reduced glutathione (GSH), oxidized glutathione disulfide (GSSG), testosterone (T), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (E2) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were determined by ELISA. The expressions of P450 aromatase (CYP19), sirtuin 6 (Sirt6), P53, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB)-p65, and phospho-NF-κB-p65 (NF-κB-pp65) in the testes were examined by western blot and/or immunohistochemical staining.

Results: Sustained exposure to D-gal/NaNO2 caused a deterioration of sperm quality and testes morphology in this rapid aging mouse model. BZBS treatment curtailed these alterations. These beneficial effects were associated with increased serum levels of TAC, GSH/GSSG, T, E2, and FSH, and decreased levels of MDA, TNF-α, and 8-OH-dG. BZBS treatment also downregulated the expressions of P53, iNOS, and NF-κB-pp65, as well as upregulated the expressions of Sirt6 and CYP19 in aging testes.

Conclusions: BZBS preserves testicular morphology and spermatogenesis possibly via inhibition of oxidative stress and the modulation of the Sirt6/P53 and Sirt6/NF-κB signaling pathways. The results shed light on the beneficial effect of BZBS on sperm quality and fertility in aging males.

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