Effects of Tribulus terrestris on endocrine sensitive organs in male and female Wistar rats

J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jan 8;127(1):165-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.09.031. Epub 2009 Sep 23.


Aim of the study: Investigate the possible effects of Tribulus terrestris (TT) on endocrine sensitive organs in intact and castrated male rats as well as in a post-menopausal rat model using ovariectomized females.

Materials and methods: Three different dose levels of TT (11, 42 and 110 mg/kg/day) were administered to castrated males for 7 days and to intact males and castrated females for 28 days. In addition to TT treatment, all experiments also included a group of rats treated with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). In experiments using castrated males and females we also used testosterone and 17 alpha-ethynylestradiol, respectively, as positive controls for androgenicity and estrogenicity.

Results: Neither DHEA nor TT was able to stimulate androgen sensitive tissues like the prostate and seminal vesicle in both intact and castrated male rats. In addition, administration of TT to intact male rats for 28 days did not change serum testosterone levels as well as did not produce any quantitative change in the fecal excretion of androgenic metabolites. However, a slight increase in the number of homogenization-resistant spermatids was observed in rats treated with 11 mg/kg/day of TT extract. In ovariectomized females, TT did not produce any stimulatory effects in uterine and vaginal epithelia.

Conclusions: Tribulus terrestris was not able to stimulate endocrine sensitive tissues such as the prostate, seminal vesicle, uterus and vagina in Wistar rats, indicating lack of androgenic and estrogenic activity in vivo. We also showed a positive effect of TT administration on rat sperm production, associated with unchanged levels of circulating androgens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / administration & dosage
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Castration
  • Cell Count
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Organ Specificity
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Prostate / drug effects
  • Prostate / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Seminal Vesicles / drug effects
  • Seminal Vesicles / pathology
  • Spermatids / drug effects*
  • Testis / drug effects*
  • Testis / pathology
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Tribulus / chemistry*
  • Uterus / drug effects
  • Uterus / pathology
  • Vagina / drug effects
  • Vagina / pathology


  • Androgens
  • Plant Extracts
  • Testosterone