Novel effects of diosgenin on skin aging

Steroids. 2009 Jun;74(6):504-11. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2009.01.006. Epub 2009 Jan 31.


Extracts of Dioscorea coomposita or Dioscorea villosa are consumed as supplemental health foods at the time of climacteric. The extracts contain large amounts of the plant steroid, diosgenin. Here, we studied the safety and efficacy of diosgenin against skin aging at the time of climacteric. In vitro, diosgenin enhanced DNA synthesis in a human 3D skin equivalent model, and increased bromodeoxyuridine uptake and intracellular cAMP level in adult human keratinocytes. The increase of bromodeoxyuridine uptake by diosgenin was blocked by an adenylate cyclase inhibitor, but not by antisense oligonucleotides against estrogen receptor alpha, estrogen receptor beta or an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR30, indicating the involvement of cAMP but not estrogen receptor alpha, estrogen receptor beta or GPR30. In vivo, administration of diosgenin improved the epidermal thickness in the ovariectomized mice, a climacteric model, without altering the degree of fat accumulation. In order to examine the safety of diosgenin, diosgenin and 17beta-estradiol were administered to breast cancer-burdened mice. The results revealed that while 17beta-estradiol accelerated the tumor growth, diosgenin did not show this effect. Our finding, a restoration of keratinocyte proliferation in aged skin, suggests that diosgenin may have potential as a safe health food for climacteric.

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenine / pharmacology
  • Adenylyl Cyclase Inhibitors
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Diosgenin / administration & dosage
  • Diosgenin / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estrogen Receptor beta / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects*
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Mice, Nude
  • Ovariectomy
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin Aging / drug effects*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Tumor Burden / drug effects


  • Adenylyl Cyclase Inhibitors
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • GPER1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • 9-(tetrahydro-2-furyl)-adenine
  • DNA
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Adenine
  • Diosgenin