Effects of plant polyphenols on ovarian follicular reserve in aging rats.
Biochem Cell Biol. 2010 Aug;88(4):737-45. PMID: 20651847
Laboratory of Cell Senescence, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, China.
The pool of ovarian primordial follicles is established during embryonic development or at birth. During the development from primordial to primary, secondary, and antral follicles, only a small portion of follicles can mature and successfully ovulate; the others are destined to degenerate through apoptotic or atretic loss. As aging advances, females ultimately enter the cessation phase of the estrous cycle and are no longer capable of fertilization. The presumption is that if we can slow down the process of folliculogenesis or decrease follicle loss, females may have a larger ovarian follicular reserve and a longer reproductive lifespan. In our study, rats underwent intragastric administration with tea polyphenols, quercetin (meletin), genistein, or resveratrol, once a day for 4 months (from age 12 to 15 months), to test whether they have positive effects on follicular reserve or ovarian functions. The results showed that rats treated with tea polyphenols (27.8 +/- 3.2) and quercetin (36.5 +/- 4.1) had a comparable number of healthy follicles to those of controls (26.9 +/- 3.8), although significantly fewer atretic follicles were observed in the tea polyphenol group (43.4 +/- 5.9 vs 79.7 +/- 7.5; p<0.001). Remarkably, both genistein- and resveratrol-treated rats had more healthy follicles (respectively, 42.8 +/- 3.9, p<0.05; and 51.9 +/- 6.4, p<0.001) and fewer atretic follicles (respectively, 58.4 +/- 8.0, p<0.05; and 51.0 +/- 6.2, p<0.01) than controls. These results indicate that genistein and resveratrol can increase the ovarian follicular reserve and prolong the ovarian lifespan in rats, and their positive effects may be not only due to their intervention in the transition from primordial to primary follicle, but also due to the inhibiting effect on follicular atresia.