The inductive effects of Centella asiatica on rat spermatogenic cell apoptosis in vivo

J Nat Med. 2012 Apr;66(2):271-8. doi: 10.1007/s11418-011-0578-y. Epub 2011 Aug 26.


Centella asiatica (L.) Urban has been traditionally used for the treatment of various disease and as a food for thousands of years in various parts of the world including eastern Asia, China and India. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of Centella asiatica aqueous leaf extract on the induction of spermatogenic cell apoptosis in male rats. After lethal dose (LD(50)) assessment of plant extract, rats were divided in five groups. The experimental groups received orally 10, 50, 80 and 100 mg/kg aqueous leaf extract daily for 60 days and the control group received just water. After 60 days, body and testis weight were measured and blood samples were taken from the heart. To evaluate apoptosis and histological changes, tissue samples obtained from rat testes were stained by TUNEL assay and hematoxylin and eosin stain. Results showed that the sperm count, motility, and viability and the number of spermatogenic cells in the seminiferous tubules were significantly decreased compared with the control group. The number of apoptotic germ cells per seminiferous tubule cross-section was significantly increased in the experimental group (18.11 ± 3.5) compared with the control group (8.7 ± 0.81) (P < 0.05). Serum testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone levels also showed significant decreases in the experimental groups (P < 0.05). There was also a significant decrease in testis weight in experimental groups compared with the control group (P < 0.05). It is concluded that Centella asiatica has toxicological effects on the reproductive system in male rats and, therefore, it is suggested that leaf extracts of Centella asiatica possess antifertility effects in the male rat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Centella / chemistry*
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacokinetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Seminiferous Tubules / cytology
  • Seminiferous Tubules / drug effects
  • Sperm Count
  • Spermatogenesis / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Plant Extracts
  • Testosterone
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone