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Horm Metab Res. 2012 Sep;44(9):682-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1304607. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

Blocking of β-adrenergic receptors during the subfertile period inhibits spontaneous ovarian cyst formation in rats.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Laboratory of Neurobiochemistry, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


As aging proceeds, fertility problems arise, and the success rate of in vitro fertilization declines. During reproductive aging, rat ovaries present spontaneous formation of cysts, followed by a concomitant increase in sympathetic nerve activity, causing infertility and cessation of ovarian function. β2-Adrenergic receptors, which are activated by noradrenaline (NA), modify follicular development and steroid secretions; thus, increased nerve activity has been associated with the development and maintenance of cystic structures. The purpose of this work was to block the effect of this sympathetic activity through in vivo administration of propranolol (a β-adrenergic receptor antagonist) to determine whether it delays cyst formation and cessation of the ovarian function in rats that had reached the subfertile period. Propranolol was administrated daily to 8- and 10-month-old rats for 2 months. Estrous cycling activity was monitored by vaginal smear, serum concentration of the steroidal hormones was determined by enzyme-immune assay and morphological analysis of the ovaries was performed using 6 μm tissue slices stained with hematoxylin-eosin. Propranolol increased the number of healthy follicles, the ovulation rate, and levels of serum sexual steroids (androstenedione, testosterone, and estradiol) and recovered estrous cycling activity. It also decreased the number of follicular cysts. These results suggest that the blockade of β-adrenergic receptors recovered ovarian function during reproductive aging. It is suggested that propranolol induces a time-dependent extension of the subfertile window, and it could be used to increase the success rate of fertility programs in aging woman.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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