Protective effects of Withania somnifera against cyclophosphamide-induced testicular damage in rats

Clin Exp Reprod Med. 2024 Jun 10. doi: 10.5653/cerm.2023.06415. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: Cyclophosphamide (CP) is an alkylating agent commonly used in cancer treatment. It is known to have detrimental effects on the reproductive system, including the potential to cause infertility. Recently, herbal remedies have gained traction as a complementary approach to addressing these side effects. In this study, our goal was to investigate whether the aqueous-alcoholic extract of Withania somnifera (WS) could mitigate the adverse impacts of CP on testicular tissue.

Methods: Animals were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: control, WS (500 mg/kg), CP (100 mg/kg), CP+WS pre-treatment, and CP+WS post-treatment. WS was administered orally through gavage for 1 month. We assessed sperm parameters, testicular histopathology, and the expression of the Bax and Bcl2 genes in the experimental groups.

Results: Sperm parameters (including count, viability, and motility), the number of spermatogonia, the seminiferous tubule diameter, and Bcl2 gene expression, significantly decreased after CP injection (p<0.05). Conversely, the number of immotile sperm and Bax gene expression significantly increased (p<0.05). Treatment with WS, especially when administered as a pre-treatment, ameliorated the sperm parameters, histological alterations, and the expression of apoptosis-related genes (p<0.05).

Conclusion: The data suggest that WS may mitigate the detrimental effects of CP on testicular tissue by reducing apoptosis. Consequently, WS has the potential to be used as an adjunctive therapy to reduce the complications associated with CP treatment.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Ashwagandha; Cyclophosphamide; Sperm analyses; Testis.