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Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2013 Jan;3(1):27-36. doi: 10.4103/2229-516X.112238.

An increase of granulosa cell apoptosis mediates aqueous neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf extract-induced oocyte apoptosis in rat.

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Department of Zoology, Cell Physiology Laboratory, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.



Neem plant (Azadirachta indica) has been extensively used in Ayurvedic system of medicine for female fertility regulation for a long time, but its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Hence, the present study was aimed to determine whether an increase of granulosa cell apoptosis is associated with aqueous neem leaf extract (NLE)-induced oocyte apoptosis.


Sexually immature female rats of 20 days old were fed NLE (50 mg/day) for 10 days and then subjected to superovulation induction protocol. The morphological changes in cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs), rate of oocyte apoptosis, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), total nitrite, and cytochrome c concentrations, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cytochrome c, p53, Bcl2 and Bax expressions, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) fragmentation, and estradiol 17β level in granulosa cells collected from preovulatory COCs were analyzed.


Aqueous NLE increased H2O2 concentration and decreased catalase activity, increased iNOS expression and total nitrite concentration, increased p53, Bax, and p53 expressions but decreased Bcl2 expression, increased cytochrome c concentration and induced DNA fragmentation in granulosa cells. An increased granulosa cell apoptosis resulted in reduced estradiol 17β concentration and induced apoptosis in ovulated oocytes.


We conclude that aqueous NLE-induced granulosa cell apoptosis through the mitochondria-mediated pathway, reduced estradiol 17β concentration and induced apoptosis in ovulated oocytes. Thus, granulosa cell apoptosis mediates NLE-induced oocyte apoptosis during female fertility regulation in rat.


Aqueous neem leaf extract; Bax/Bcl2; deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation; granulosa cell apoptosis; rat oocytes; reactive oxygen species

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