Guizhi Fuling Wan reduces autophagy of granulosa cell in rats with polycystic ovary syndrome via restoring the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway.J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Apr 24; 270:113821.JE
Guizhi Fuling Wan (GFW) is a traditional Chinese medicine used to remove blood stasis and dissipate phlegm for treating gynecological diseases that was invented by Zhang Zhongjing in the Eastern Han dynasty. In recent years, GFW has been widely used to treat patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Clinical and animal studies have shown that it is effective in the treatment of PCOS, but its mechanism is unknown. Generally, it works by regulating autophagy via the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway.
AIM OF THE STUDY
This study investigated the effects and mechanism of GFW in PCOS rats with insulin resistance (IR) in order to provide better understanding of its observed clinical effects and a theoretical basis for the study of traditional Chinese medicine.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Eighty-four female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into seven groups (n = 12 per group): 1) control, 2) PCOS model, 3) low-dose GFW, 4) medium-dose GFW, 5) high-dose GFW, 6) metformin, and 7) medium-dose GFW plus LY294002. In all non-control groups, we induced PCOS through daily letrozole combined with intragastric high-fat emulsion for 21 days. After treatment, rats were sacrificed and serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), testosterone (T), progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), 17β-estradiol, fasting insulin (FINS), and fasting plasma glucose levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The LH/FSH ratios and HOMA-IR values were calculated. Ovarian morphology was observed by hematoxylin and eosin staining, and all follicles were counted under a microscope. MDC-positive vesicles were used as markers to detect autophagy, and the expression levels of p62, Beclin1, and LC3-II were examined by immunostaining. Western blotting was used to measure PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway activation, granulosa cell apoptosis, and autophagy.
Compared with the PCOS model group, GFW-treated rats had less atretic and cystic follicles, and more mature follicles and corpus lutea. The GFW-treated rats had lower serum T, LH, and FINS levels than the PCOS model group, as well as lower LH/FSH ratios and HOMA-IR values. GFW treatment resulted in significantly reduced levels of cleaved-Caspase-3, cleaved-Caspase-9, BAX, Beclin1, Atg5, and LC3-II. Phosphorylation of PI3K, AKT, and mTOR was significantly higher in GFW-treated rats compared with the PCOS model group. The phosphorylation of PI3K, AKT, and mTOR was decreased with the use of a PI3K antagonist.
Our results indicate that GFW inhibited granulosa cell autophagy and promoted follicular development to attenuate ovulation disorder in PCOS-IR rats. This was associated with activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway.