Comparative Analysis of Proteins with Stimulating Activity on Ovarian Estradiol Biosynthesis from Four Different Dioscorea Species in vitro Using Both Phenotypic and Target-based Approaches: Implication for Treating Menopause

Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2016 Sep;180(1):79-93. doi: 10.1007/s12010-016-2084-x. Epub 2016 Apr 30.


Rhizomes of Dioscorea species are traditionally used for relieving menopausal syndromes in Chinese medicine. The estrogen-stimulating bioactive principles have been demonstrated in our previous study. In this study, the estrogen-stimulating effects of proteins isolated from four Dioscorea species [D. alata L. (DA), D. zingiberensis C.H. Wright (DH), D. collettii var. hypoglauca (Palib.) S.J. Pei & C.T. Ting (DH), and D. oppositifolia L. (DO)] have been investigated and compared. Microscopic authentication of four Dioscorea species was performed by using paraffin and powder sections of the rhizomes. The potential bioactive proteins of four Dioscorea species have been rapidly isolated by using a DOI-antibody affinity column chromatography on immobilized antibodies against on estradiol-stimulating protein from DO (DOI), and their bioactivity has been rapidly confirmed and compared by phenotypic (i.e., estradiol-stimulating effect) and target-based (i.e., STAR, aromatase, estrogen receptors) screening approaches. The estrogen-stimulating activity of bioactive proteins from DO is the highest. In addition, bioactive proteins from DO upregulated the estradiol-metabolizing enzymes (aromatase and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein). Meanwhile, bioactive proteins from DA, DH and DO upregulated estrogen receptor β (ERβ). All bioactive proteins did not change the expression of estrogen receptor β (ERα). The estrogen-stimulating bioactive proteins isolated from DO increased biosynthesis of estradiol and upregulated the protein expression of aromatase, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, and ERβ. The results scientifically support the traditional use of DO in Chinese medicine for relieving menopausal syndrome. Besides, proteins from DA and DZ could also upregulate the translational levels of ERβ, and potentially reducing the risk of ovarian cancer, which also support the clinical use of them for treating female aging disorder. Graphical Abstract Comparative Analysis of DOI-like Proteins with Stimulating Activity on Ovarian Estradiol Biosynthesis from Four Different Dioscorea Species in vitro.

Keywords: Aromatase; Dioscorea protein; Estrogen; Estrogen receptor; Estrogen-stimulating protein; Menopause; Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aromatase / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Dioscorea / metabolism*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Estradiol / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Granulosa Cells / cytology
  • Granulosa Cells / drug effects
  • Granulosa Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Menopause / drug effects*
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Ovary / cytology
  • Ovary / drug effects
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Powders
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Rhizome / chemistry


  • Phosphoproteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Powders
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • steroidogenic acute regulatory protein
  • Estradiol
  • Aromatase