Lycium barbarum polysaccharides: Protective effects against heat-induced damage of rat testes and H2O2-induced DNA damage in mouse testicular cells and beneficial effect on sexual behavior and reproductive function of hemicastrated rats

Life Sci. 2006 Jul 10;79(7):613-21. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2006.02.012. Epub 2006 Mar 6.


Lycium barbarum, a famous Chinese medicinal herb, has a long history of use as a traditional remedy for male infertility. Polysaccharides are the most important functional constituent in L. barbarum fruits. We systematically investigated the effect of L. barbarum polysaccharides (LBP) on rat testis damage induced by a physical factor (43 degrees C heat exposure), on DNA damage of mouse testicular cells induced by a chemical factor (H2O2), and on sexual behavior and reproductive function of hemicastrated male rats. The results showed that LBP provided a protective effect against the testicular tissue damage induced by heat exposure. When compared with negative control, a suitable concentration of LBP significantly increased testis and epididymis weights, improved superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and raised sexual hormone levels in the damaged rat testes. LBP had a dose-dependent protective effect against DNA oxidative damage of mouse testicular cells induced by H2O2. LBP improved the copulatory performance and reproductive function of hemicastrated male rats, such as shortened penis erection latency and mount latency, regulated secretion of sexual hormones and increased hormone levels, raised accessory sexual organ weights, and improved sperm quantity and quality. The present findings support the folk reputation of L. barbarum fruits as an aphrodisiac and fertility-facilitating agent, and provide scientific evidence for a basis for the extensive use of L. barbarum fruits as a traditional remedy for male infertility in China.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants*
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • Genitalia / drug effects
  • Genitalia / growth & development
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / toxicity*
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Lycium / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Orchiectomy*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Oxidants / toxicity*
  • Polysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects
  • Testis / cytology
  • Testis / drug effects
  • Testis / pathology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Oxidants
  • Polysaccharides
  • Hydrogen Peroxide