Protective effect of Huyang Yangkun Formula on ovarian function in premature ovarian insufficiency rats based on apoptotic mechanism

J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Nov 15;280:114477. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.114477. Epub 2021 Jul 31.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Huyang Yangkun Formula(HYF) is a traditional Chinese medicine formula based on the traditional theory of Yin and Yang. It could consolidate the Qi of Yin and Yang, adjust the balance of Qi and blood. It has shown clinical efficacy for patients with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency(POI).

Aim of the study: Aim to access the effect of Huyang Yangkun formula (HYF) on premature ovarian insufficiency rat model and explores the mechanism related to aquaporins(AQPs) and apoptosis.

Materials and methods: Female SD rats were injected with 4-vinylcyclonhexenediepoxide(VCD, 160 mg/kg/day) for 15 days. Then, HYF (0.297 g/kg)/estradiol valerate (0.1 mg/kg) was administered for 105 days in the HYF/estradiol valerate treatment(EVT) group. Serum AMH, FSH and E2 were detected by ELISA, and the developing follicles were counted in each group.The TUNEL assay was used to detect positive apoptotic signals. IHC and western blots were used to verify differentially expressed AQPs and apoptosis-related regulators potentially associated with HYF.

Results: Total follicles were increased significantly in the HYF group. Serum AMH was increased in the HYF group compared with MOD group. Serum FSH and E2 showed no obvious difference between HYF group and MOD group. Apoptosis occurred in POI model was proved by TUNEL and Caspase3/9 and HYF could rescue this apoptosis, besides the anti-apoptotic effect may be better than EVT. Distribution of AQPs in rat ovaries based on developmental stages of follicle was observed, and AQP8 was obviously expressed in the developing follicles and corpus luteum, particularly in granulosa cells. Upregulation of AQP8 in the MOD group and downregulation by HYF were observed. BCL-XL was significantly upregulated in the HYF group and EVT group; BCL-2 was upregulated in the HYF group with no statistical difference; MCL-1 was downregulated in the HYF group. BAX and BIM were significantly upregulated in the MOD group. The ratio of BCL-2/BAX and BCL-XL/BAX were decreased in the MOD group, and BCL-XL/BAX was increased in the HYF group and EVT group.

Conclusion: This study evaluated the treatment effect of HYF on POI in rats. It showed that HYF could promote the follicles development by regulating AQP8/Bcl-2 family-related mitochondrial apoptosis, which provides basic evidence for TCM as an alternative therapy for POI.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Aquaporins; Huyang yangkun formula; Premature ovarian insufficiency; Traditional Chinese medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Aquaporins / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Estradiol
  • Female
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Ovarian Follicle / drug effects*
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / drug therapy*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Aquaporins
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • aquaporin 8
  • huyang yangkun formula
  • Estradiol