Spearmint induced hypothalamic oxidative stress and testicular anti-androgenicity in male rats - altered levels of gene expression, enzymes and hormones

Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Dec;46(12):3563-70. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.08.027. Epub 2008 Aug 31.


Mentha spicata Labiatae, commonly known as spearmint, can be used for various kinds of illnesses in herbal medicines and food industries. One of the prominent functions of this plant extract is its anti-androgenic activity. The present study investigated the probable correlation between oxidative stress in hypothalamic region and anti-androgenic action of this plant's aqueous extract on rats. Decreased activities of enzymes like superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase in hypothalamus of treated rats indicated spearmint induced oxidative stress. Further RT-PCR and immunoblot analysis demonstrated the decreased expression of some of the steroidogenic enzymes, cytochrome P450scc, cytochrome P450C17, 3beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3beta-HSD), 17beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17beta-HSD) and other related proteins like, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, androgen receptor and scavenger receptor class B-1. Further, in vitro enzyme assays demonstrated depressed activities of testicular 3beta-HSD and 17beta-HSD enzymes. Histopathology indicated a decreased sperm density in cauda epididymis and degeneration of ductus deference. Our study suggested that spearmint probably induced oxidative stress in hypothalamus resulting in decreased synthesis of LH and FSH which in turn down-regulated the production of testicular testosterone through the disruption of a number of intermediate cascades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects*
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mentha spicata / chemistry*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Androgen / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Steroids / biosynthesis
  • Testis / drug effects*
  • Testis / metabolism


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Antioxidants
  • Hormones
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Steroids