Metabolic state can define the ovarian response to environmental contaminants and medicinal plants

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017 Dec;42(12):1264-1269. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2017-0262. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Environmental contaminants and medicinal plants can affect reproductive processes. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of maternal metabolic status on the response of mouse ovaries to the environmental contaminants benzene and xylene, as well as to extracts of the medicinal plant yucca. Ovaries isolated from normal-lean and slightly obese mice were cultured with or without 0.1% benzene or xylene for 24 h. Similarly, ovaries isolated from normal-lean, slightly obese, and significantly obese mice were cultured for 24 h with or without an extract of Yucca shidigera (YS, 10 μ g/mL). We found that the metabolic status did not influence the release of basal progesterone (P4), testosterone (T), or insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), but obesity influenced the effects of the environmental contaminants and YS. Benzene reduced P4 output in ovaries from obese but not normal-lean mice; it also reduced IGF-I (but not T) release from ovaries irrespective of the metabolic status. Xylene dramatically increased P4 and T (but not IGF-I) release by ovaries from normal-lean mice, but there were no changes in P4 and only small increases in T output in obese mice. YS increased P4 (but not T or IGF-I) release in normal-lean and slightly obese animal ovaries, whilst significant obesity was associated with a lack of P4 response to YS. Obesity might affect the basal ovarian release of T or IGF-I and increases the sensitivity of ovaries to the action of benzene but decreases their responsiveness to xylene and YS.

Keywords: IGF-I; Yucca schidigera; Yucca shidigera; benzene; benzène; obesity; obésité; ovaire; ovary; progesterone; progestérone; testosterone; testostérone; xylene; xylène.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Ovary / drug effects*
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Plants, Medicinal / toxicity*
  • Progesterone / metabolism
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Testosterone
  • Progesterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I