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Thuja occidentalis in a rat model of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Akkol EK, Ilhan M, Demirel MA, Keles H, Tumen I, Suntar I. 2015. Thuja occidentalis L. and its active compound, [alpha]-thujone: Promising effects in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome without inducing osteoporosis. J Ethnopharmaol 168: 25-30.

Thuja occidentalis (thuja), of the Cupressaceae family, has traditionally been used for the treatment of various gynaecological complaints in both humans and animals. Previous research has demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antioxidant, and anti-diabetic activities of thuja, whilst phytochemical studies have identified key chemical constituents as terpenoids, steroids, flavonoids, and polysaccharides. In the essential oil of T occidentalis, thujone has been reported to be the major therapeutically active constituent. The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible activity potential of both T. occidentalis essential oil and [alpha]-thujone, in a rat model of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

The study involved 24 female rats with letrozole-induced PCOS. Letrozole is a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor that blocks the synthesis of oestrogen from testosterone and induces PCOS in female rats. After PCOS induction, the rats were divided randomly and equally into four groups: control group, reference group {buserelin acetate [a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist] 20mg/kg body weight (BW)/day}, treatment group I (T occidentalis oil 500mg/kg BW/ day), and treatment group II ([alpha]-thujone 5mg/kg BW/day) for 45 days of treatment. Rats were sacrificed 24h after the last treatment with blood samples used to analyse circulating levels of serum gonadotropins, steroids, lipids, leptin, glucose and antioxidant activity, and histological examination was undertaken of ovary and bone tissue.

After PCOS induction all groups were reported to demonstrate irregular reproductive cycles. After the end of 45 days treatment both active treatment groups and the reference group exhibited regular oestrous cycles, whilst the control group remained irregular. After the 45 days high levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) were detected in the control group, but these hormones were in the normal range in the treatment and reference groups. Significantly lower levels of testosterone and significantly higher levels of oestradiol and progesterone were observed in the reference and both treatment groups compared to control.

Plasma total cholesterol, total glyceride, low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), leptin, and glucose levels were significantly decreased after treatment with T occidentalis, [alpha]-thujone, or reference buserelin acetate, when compared to the control group. Active treatments also significantly increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels.

Antioxidant activity was variable amongst treatment groups. Serum malondialdehyde (MDA) levels significantly decreased in the T. occidentalis and [alpha]-thujone groups, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels significantly increased in the [alpha]-thujone group when compared to control. There were no other significant effects on antioxidant parameters among groups. Histopathological examination revealed that the corpus luteum, regressed corpus luteum, and follicular cysts were more severe in the control group compared to the T. occidentalis, [alpha]-thujone, or reference groups, which authors suggested was representative of good healing activity of the active treatments. Finally, the integrity of the osteogenic tissue was protected in the T. occidentalis and [alpha]-thujone groups. Administration of buserelin acetate resulted in increased bone resorption. Previous studies have found similar results, with prolonged administration of GnRH agonists associated with increased bone resorption and induced osteoporosis.

The study provides interesting and positive results for a potential role of both T occidentalis and [alpha]-thujone. Whilst authors concluded the results supported the use of T occidentalis essential oil and its active componenent, [alpha]-thujone, for the treatment of PCOS without inducing osteoporosis, more clinical research is required to develop an understanding of the effects and safety in a human population with polycystic ovary syndrome, and to ascertain optimal dosage requirements for treatment.
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Article Details
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Author:Tester, Jodie
Publication:Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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