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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2009, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (7): 657-660.doi: 10.3736/jcim20090710

• Original Experimental Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Estrogen-like effects of saikosaponin-d in mice

Yong Lia,Peng Wanga,Jian-lin Renb, Dong-ying Yuanc,Shou-yi Yinc   

  1. a Department of Gastroenterology, Shanghai Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200071, China
    b Department of Medical Information, Shanghai Medical Information Center, Shanghai 200031, China
    c Department of Basic Theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, College of Basic Medical Sciences,Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
  • Received:2009-03-24 Accepted:2009-05-14 Online:2009-07-20 Published:2009-07-15
  • Contact: Yong Li


To investigate whether saikosaponin-d (SSd) had estrogen-like effects in mice.


Forty female BALB/c mice were randomly divided into sham-operated group, untreated group, estradiol (E2) group, low-dose SSd (5 mg/kg) group and high-dose SSd (50 mg/kg) group, with 8 mice in each group. Except the sham-operated group, bilateral ovariectomy was performed in the mice under anesthesia with 1.25% pentobarbital (40 mg/kg). Ten days after the operation, the mice were administered with corresponding medicine by intraperitoneal injection once each day. Two weeks later, the rates of epithelial cornified cells of vagina in the mice were examined, and the body weights, uterus weights and adrenal weights were also measured. Twelve hours after the final administration, serum estradiol levels were tested by radioimmunoassay.

The rates of epithelial cornified cells of vagina in mice in the high-dose SSd group and the low-dose SSd group were higher than that in the untreated group (P<0.05), but were lower than that in the E2 group (P<0.05). Serum E2 levels of mice in the SSd groups were higher than that in the untreated group (P<0.05), but the serum E2 level of the low-dose SSd group was lower than that in the E2 group (P<0.05). Uterus and adrenal indexes of mice in the SSd groups were higher than that in the untreated group (P<0.05), however, they were lower than that in the E2 group (P<0.05). The body weights of the mice in the high-dose SSd group and the E2 group were lower than that in the untreated group (P<0.05).

SSd has weak estrogen-like effects in mice and may be a potential phytoestrogen.

Key words: Saikosaponin-d, Phytoestrogen, Estrogen, Mice

Figure 1

Vaginal smear of mice in untreated group (Light microscopy, ×100) A: The fifth day after bilateral ovariectomy (epithelial cornified cells of vagina); B: The tenth day after bilateral ovariectomy."

Table 1

Rates of epithelial cornified cells of vagina and serum E2 levels in mice in five groups ($\bar{x}$±s)"

Group n Rate of epithelial
cornified cells (%)
Serum E2 (ng/L)
Sham-operated 8 75.1±10.2 33.77±5.89
Untreated 8 15.3±3.2* 18.97±3.80*
E2 8 64.1±12.7* 32.30±5.65
SSd (50 mg/kg) 8 31.8±11.4* 30.38±4.24
SSd (5 mg/kg) 8 18.8±5.1* 27.11±4.85△▲

Table 2

Uterus and adrenal indexes of mice in five groups ($\bar{x}$±s, mg/g)"

Group n Uterus index Adrenal index
Sham-operated 8 2.51±0.15 0.163±0.011
Untreated 8 1.16±0.14* 0.107±0.013*
E2 8 2.26±0.15* 0.176±0.017*
SSd (50 mg/kg) 8 1.96±0.13*△▲ 0.133±0.012*△▲
SSd (5 mg/kg) 8 1.71±0.13*△▲ 0.112±0.016*△▲

Table 3

Weight growth of mice in five groups ($\bar{x}$±s, g)"

Group n Increased body weight
1st week 2nd week
Sham-operated 8 3.21±0.73 2.16±0.73
Untreated 8 4.07±0.70 2.47±0.85
E2 8 3.51±1.32 1.07±0.82*
SSd (50 mg/kg) 8 2.81±1.02 2.77±1.01
SSd (5 mg/kg) 8 3.88±1.04 2.13±0.89

Table 4

Body weights of mice in five groups before and after treatment ($\bar{x}$±s, g)"

Group n Body weight
Before treatment After treatment Difference
Sham-operated 8 16.08±0.70 21.45±1.21 5.37±1.27
Untreated 8 16.06±0.80 22.60±0.72 6.54±0.78
E2 8 16.13±0.55 20.71±1.04 4.58±1.22
SSd (50 mg/kg) 8 15.97±0.76 21.55±1.01 5.58±1.03
SSd (5 mg/kg) 8 16.10±0.70 22.11±1.42 6.01±0.75
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