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To investigate the effects and potential mechanism of action of shikonin (SHK) on the development of ovarian follicles and female germline stem cells (FGSCs). Female Kunming adult mice were administered SHK (0, 20 and 50 mg/kg) by oral gavage. Cultures of FGSCs were treated with SHK 32 μmol/l for 24 h. The ovarian index in mouse ovaries was calculated. Numbers of primordial, primary and atretic follicles were counted. Germline stem cell markers and apoptosis were examined. Levels of glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were measured. Both doses of SHK significantly decreased the ovarian index, the numbers of primordial follicles, primary follicles and antral follicles in mice. SHK significantly increased the numbers of atretic follicles and atretic corpora lutea. SHK promoted apoptosis in vivo and in vitro. SHK significantly decreased the levels of the germline stem cell markers. SHK significantly lowered GSH levels and the activity of SOD in the peripheral blood from mice, whereas SHK significantly elevated cellular ROS content in FGSCs. These current results suggested that follicular development and FGSCs were suppressed by SHK through the induction of apoptosis and oxidative stress might be involved in this pathological process.


Shu-Xin Ma, Li-Bo Tang, Zhi-Hang Chen, Min-Li Wei, Zi-Juan Tang, Yue-Hui Zheng, Guo Zong, Jia Li. Effects of shikonin on the development of ovarian follicles and female germline stem cells. The Journal of international medical research. 2021 Jul;49(7):3000605211029461

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PMID: 34325571

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