Purpose: Canc er is the second leading cause of death in children in developed countries and most of childhood malignancies can be treated with chemo-radiotherapy. Although radiation therapy is a successful treatment modality in cancer patients, it has various adverse effects. Especially the gonads are very sensitive and prone to radiation-related damage. Radiation impairs the ovaries by triggering apoptosis of follicular cells and chromosomal damage and oxidative stress. Shilajit, a traditional medicinal agent in India, Russia, and other parts of the world, contains various antioxidant agents and has ovogenic effects. To evaluate the ability of shilajit to prevent radiation-induced ovarian damage.
Methods: Forty Wistar albino female rats were divided into four groups as: Control group, shilajit group, radiation only group, and radiation + shilajit group. Four days after radiation exposure, the rats were sacrificed and the ovaries were removed and evaluated immuno-histopathologically.
Results: There was a statistically significant difference in follicle counts (primordial, primary, preantral, antral, and atretic follicles) between the groups (p < 0.001). Almost all follicles at all stages were atretic in the radiation only group whereas normal-looking primordial follicles were detected in the radiation + shilajit group. In radiation + shilajit group, p53, Bax and caspase 3 expression was less intense than that in the radiation only group follicles.
Conclusion: This is the first reported study evaluating the effects of shilajit on radiation-related ovarian damage prevention. Shilajit decreased the expression of p53, Bax, and caspase 3, thereby blocking the apoptotic pathways. Shilajit was found to be especially protective of primordial follicles.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Folliculogenesis; Ionizing radiation; Oxidative stress; Rat ovary; Shilajit.