Abstract
EFFICACY OF ASHWAGANDHA (WITHANIA SOMNIFERA L.) ROOT EXTRACTS IN PREVENTING STRESS INDUCED TESTICULAR DAMAGE IN RAT

Nirupama M. and Yajurvedi H. N.*

ABSTRACT

The aim of the study was to investigate whether or not chloroform and alcoholic extracts of Ashwagandha root, prevent stress induced impairment in spermatogenesis, steroidogenesis and oxidative damage in the testis by suppressing the activation of hypothalamus-pituitary- adrenal axis. Exposure of adult male rats to chronic stress (restraint,1 h followed by forced swimming exercise,15 minutes) for 1 month resulted in a significant increase in serum corticosterone concentration coupled with a significant decrease in serum testosterone concentration and a significant reduction in counts of germ cells in stage VII of spermatogenesis and epididymal sperm count. In addition, there was a decrease in the activity of anti-oxidant enzymes and concentrations of non-enzymatic anti-oxidants (ascorbic acid and tocopherol) accompanied by an increase in malondialdehyde concentration in the testis indicating oxidative damage. However, oral administration of ethanolic or chloroform extracts of Withania somnifera (each 10 mg/kg body weight/rat/day for 1month) or mifepristone a synthetic anti-glucocorticoid drug (10 mg/kg body weight/rat/day, last five days of the experiment) to rats 1 hour prior to stress regime did not result in changes mentioned above. The results indicate that stress alters testicular activity by suppressing the testicular steroidogenic activity and causing oxidative damage, which are effectively prevented by root extracts of Ashwagandha by suppressing stress induced activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. Therefore, crude extracts of Ashwagandha have the potential to be used for reproductive abnormalities caused by stress.

Keywords: Withania somnifera, spermatogenesis, steroidogenesis, oxidative damage, hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.


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