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Open Access Research article

Possible mechanism underlying the effect of Heshouwuyin, a tonifying kidney herb, on sperm quality in aging rats

Siyun Niu12, Jingbo Chen2, Fei Duan2, Qingliang Song2, Mingyue Qin2, Zhenshan Wang3* and Jingze Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Life Science, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050024, Hebei Province, China

2 School of Basic Medicine, Hebei University, Baoding 071000, Hebei Province, China

3 College of Life Science, Hebei University, Baoding 071002, Hebei Province, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:250  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-250

Published: 17 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Herb mixtures are used as alternatives to hormone therapy in China for the treatment of partial androgen deficiency in aging men. However, the compositions of these herb mixtures are complex and their mechanisms are often unknown. This study investigates the effect of Heshouwuyin, a Chinese herbal compound for invigorating the kidney, on the control of testosterone secretion and sperm function.

Methods

Aged Wistar rats were administered with Heshouwuyin. A Shouwu pill group and young group were used as controls.

Results

Morphology, chemiluminescence, fluorescence immunohistochemistry, and western blot showed that the epididymal sperm of naturally aged rats had intact plasma membranes. They also had abnormal mitochondrial function and DNA integrity, a significant decline in serum testosterone levels, and significant pathological changes in the structure of testicular tissues. Heshouwuyin significantly improved sperm function and serum testosterone levels, and improved testicular morphology. Moreover, the curative efficacy of Heshouwuyin after 60 days was better than that of Heshouwuyin after 30 days and the Shouwu pill group.

Conclusion

Heshouwuyin exerts an important role in controlling testosterone secretion and sperm function.

Keywords:
Heshouwuyin; StAR; P450scc; Sperm quality; Leydig cells