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Effect of Saffron on Semen Parameters of Infertile Men



We conducted this study to determine the effects of saffron (Crocus sativus) on the results of semen analysis in men with idiopathic infertility. In this clinical trial, 52 nonsmoker infertile men whose problem could not be solved surgically were enrolled. They were treated by saffron for 3 months. Saffron, 50 mg, was solved in drinking milk and administered 3 times a week during the study course. Semen analysis was done before and after the treatment and the results were compared. The mean percentage of sperm with normal morphology was 26.50 +/- 6.44% before the treatment which increased to 33.90 +/- 10.45%, thereafter (P < .001). The mean percentage of sperm with Class A motility was 5.32 +/- 4.57% before and 11.77 +/- 6.07% after the treatment (P < .001). Class B and C motilities were initially 10.09 +/- 4.20% and 19.79 +/- 9.11% which increased to 17.92 +/- 6.50% (P < .001) and 25.35 +/- 10.22% (P < .001), respectively. No significant increase was detected in sperm count; the mean sperm count was 43.45 +/- 31.29 x 106/mL at baseline and 44.92 +/- 28.36x 106/mL after the treatment period (P = .30). Saffron, as an antioxidant, is positively effective on sperm morphology and motility in infertile men, while it does not increase sperm count. We believe further studies on larger sample sizes are needed to elucidate the potential role and mechanism of action of saffron and its ingredient in the treatment of male infertility.
Sexual Dysfunction and Infertility
Urology Journal Vol 5 No 4 Autumn 2008
Effect of Saffron on Semen Parameters of Infertile Men
Mohammad Heidary,1 Jahanbakhsh Reza Nejadi,2 Bahram Delfan,2 Mehdi Birjandi,2
Hossein Kaviani,3 Soudabeh Givrad4
Introduction: We conducted this study to determine the effects of saffron
(Crocus sativus) on the results of semen analysis in men with idiopathic
Materials and Methods: In this clinical trial, 52 nonsmoker infertile men
whose problem could not be solved surgically were enrolled. They were
treated by saffron for 3 months. Saffron, 50 mg, was solved in drinking milk
and administered 3 times a week during the study course. Semen analysis was
done before and after the treatment and the results were compared.
Results: The mean percentage of sperm with normal morphology was 26.50
± 6.44% before the treatment which increased to 33.90 ± 10.45%, thereafter
(P < .001). The mean percentage of sperm with Class A motility was
5.32 ± 4.57% before and 11.77 ± 6.07% after the treatment (P < .001). Class B
and C motilities were initially 10.09 ± 4.20% and 19.79 ± 9.11% which increased
to 17.92 ± 6.50% (P < .001) and 25.35 ± 10.22% (P < .001), respectively.
No significant increase was detected in sperm count; the mean sperm count
was 43.45 ± 31.29 × 106/mL at baseline and 44.92 ± 28.36× 106/mL after the
treatment period (P = .30).
Conclusion: Saffron, as an antioxidant, is positively effective on sperm
morphology and motility in infertile men, while it does not increase sperm
count. We believe further studies on larger sample sizes are needed to elucidate
the potential role and mechanism of action of saffron and its ingredient in the
treatment of male infertility.
Urol J. 2008;5:255-9.
Keywords: male infertility, Crocus
sativus, antioxidants, sperm motility,
sperm count
1Department of Urology, Lorestan
University of Medical Sciences,
Khorramabad, Iran
2Department of Anesthesiology,
Lorestan University of Medical
Sciences, Khorramabad, Iran
3Shohada-e-Ashayer Hospital,
Lorestan University of Medical
Sciences, Khorramabad, Iran
4Urology and Nephrology Research
Center, Shahid Beheshti University
(MC), Tehran, Iran
Corresponding Author:
Mohammad Heidary, MD
Urology and Nephrology Research
Center, No 44, 9th Boustan St,
Pasdaran Ave, Tehran, Iran
Phone: +98 21 2256 7222
Fax: +98 21 2256 7282
Received February 2008
Accepted July 2008
Approximately, 8% of the Iranian
couples suffer from infertility after
2 years of attempting conception.(1)
Where the issue lies with the male
partner, 2 groups of patients are
seeking treatment, namely those
suffering from idiopathic infertility
and those in whom the etiology
of infertility is known. Various
therapeutic agents including
clomiphene citrate, tamoxifen,
kallikreins, and antioxidant agents
such as vitamin E and glutathione
are used to help these patients;
nevertheless, none is a definite
treatment.(2-4) This necessitates
utilization of other alternative
Recent studies have investigated
the role of reactive oxygen species
(ROS) on sperm. Even though, small
amounts of ROS are necessary for
sperm activation, these agents can
cause damage to the sperm in higher
concentrations.(5-7) Increased levels
of ROS are related to decreased
motility of the spermatozoa and
DNA damage, and may even lead
to germ cell apoptosis.(8-12) In fact,
studies have shown that more than
Saffron and Semen Parameters of Infertile Men—Heidary et al
256 Urology Journal Vol 5 No 4 Autumn 2008
40% of infertile men have augmented levels of
ROS in their seminal plasma.(13) Therefore, many
studies have focused on antioxidant agents in order
to prevent this damage on sperm metabolism,
motility, morphology, and as a consequence,
fertilizing capacity.
Crocus sativus (saffron) is a perennial herb of the
Iridaceae family with antioxidative prosperities.(14-16)
It is widely cultivated in Iran, India, Greece,
Spain, and France. Its dried red stigma is
commercially used as a food spice. Saffron has
also been widely used in folk medicine as an
antispasmodic, eupeptic, pain killer, anticatarrhal,
carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, stimulant,
stomachic, aphrodisiac, and emmenagogue.(17,18) In
some countries such as India, Spain, and China,
saffron has been used to treat infertility and
impotence from long ago.(19,20) We undertook this
study to investigate the effect of saffron on semen
parameters and infertility.
Between 2006 and 2007, we evaluated infertile
men referring to the urology clinic of Shohada-
e-Ashayer Hospital in Khorramabad, Iran. All
patients were initially interviewed and questioned
about their sexual behavior, history of prior
surgical interventions or childhood diseases such
as cryptorchidism that affect fertility, and family
history of infertility. Complete drug history
was obtained; the patients were specifically
asked about administration of sulfasalazine,
cimetidine, marijuana, cocaine, and tobacco.
Moreover, history of contact with chemicals
and ionizing radiation was acquired. All patients
were then assessed for systemic diseases such
as fever, viremia, and acute infections (eg,
mumps). Finally, the participants underwent
full urologic examination. Smokers and patients
whose problems could be solved surgically were
excluded. Eligible patients provided informed
consent and entered the study. The study
protocol was approved by the ethics committee
of the Urology and Nephrology Research Center,
Shahid Beheshti University (MC).
Before initiating the treatment with saffron,
semen analysis was performed. Samples were
obtained 48 to 72 hours after the patient’s last
sexual contact. Analyses were performed by the
aid of the Computer-Assisted Sperm Analysis in
less than 1 hour after sample collection. Using
this method, sperm motility was determined
in 4 classes defined by the World Health
Organization.(21) These 4 classes are characterized
as follows: class A, fast progressively motile sperm
(4th degree); class B, progressively motile sperm
(3rd degree); class C, nonprogressively motile
sperm (2nd degree); and class D, immotile sperm
(1st degree).
By the end of initial evaluation and semen
analysis, the patients were asked to administer 50
mg of saffron solved in milk, 3 times a week for 3
months. A specific brand of the available saffron
in Khorramabad was obtained for all the patients.
The amount to be used was weighed and divided
in separate doses by the trained research assistants.
No other treatment options were considered
during the study period. After finishing the
treatment course, semen analysis was again
carried out by Computer-Assisted Sperm Analysis
method. Results were compared and analyzed by
paired t test.
A total of 52 eligible patients were enrolled in the
study, all of whom finished the study course and
underwent a secondary semen analysis. The mean
age of the patients was 31.0 ± 4.6 years (range, 21
to 48 years). The mean percentage of sperm with
normal morphology was 26.50 ± 6.44% before
the treatment which increased to 33.90 ± 10.45%,
thereafter (P < .001), which corresponded to
a 7.4% improvement in this index. Significant
increases were also seen in the percentages of class
A to class C morphology of the sperm. The mean
percentage of sperm with Class A motility was
5.32 ± 4.57% before and 11.77% ± 6.07% after
the treatment (P < .001). Class B and C motilities
were initially 10.09 ± 4.20% and 19.79 ± 9.11%
which increased to 17.92 ± 6.50% (P < .001) and
25.35 ± 10.22% (P < .001), respectively. Overall,
6.4%, 7.8%, and 5.6% increases were detected
in the percentage of sperm with class A, B, and
C motility, respectively. We could not detect
a significant increase in terms of sperm count
with saffron therapy; the mean sperm count was
Saffron and Semen Parameters of Infertile Men—Heidary et al
Urology Journal Vol 5 No 4 Autumn 2008 257
initially 43.45 ± 31.29 × 106/mL which changed
to 44.92 ± 28.36× 106/mL, afterwards (P = .30).
About 8% of the Iranian couples are infertile, and
male factor accounts for nearly 40% of infertility
cases.(1,22) Recent advances in fertility medicine are
indicative of ROS, which impairs sperm function,
as one of the reasons behind this dilemma.(1,8-13,23)
As mentioned earlier, in contrast to the semen
of a healthy man, seminal plasma of up to 40%
of infertile men shows increased amounts of
ROS.(13) Thus, reducing the ROS may help in
the treatment of male-factor infertility. Pursuing
this hypothesis, we examined saffron stigma as
an antioxidant and found that semen parameters
improved after a period of saffron administration.
Reactive oxygen species consist of a wide range
of molecules including radicals, nonradicals, and
oxygen derivatives.(22) A small amount of ROS
is necessary for the function of cells including
germ cells. However, in increased levels,
these molecules are capable of damaging cell
membranes and genetic content. Polyunsaturated
fatty acids found in the sperm cell membrane are
one of the primary targets of ROS due to their
lipid nature. Reactive oxygen species cause lipid
peroxidation in the sperm cell membrane, and as
a result, impair sperm motility and its ability to
fuse with the oocyte.(24,25) Moreover, ROS may
induce DNA damage, which in turn will result
in poor fertilization. This DNA damage happens
through modification of all bases, production
of base-free sites, deletions, frame shifts, DNA
cross links, and chromosomal re-arrangements.
Also, they may induce high frequencies of single-
strand and double-strand DNA breaks.(11,12,24)
Finally, high levels of ROS disrupt the inner
and outer membranes of the mitochondria; as
a consequence, cytochrome c is released and
caspases are activated which lead to apoptosis.(24)
Antioxidants preserve fatty acids from oxidation,
and therefore, may play an important role in
male fertility.(25) Many studies have investigated
the role of different antioxidants on infertility. In
an investigation by Lenzi and colleagues, it was
shown that utilizing glutathione (600 mg/d for
2 months) had a significant effect on increasing
sperm motility and morphology.(26) They carried
out another study in 1993 on 20 infertile men
and re-established the role of glutathione in
improving sperm motility and morphology.(27)
In 1996, Suleiman and coworkers determined
the role of vitamin E in the treatment of infertile
men. They treated 82 infertile men with vitamin
E and demonstrated that sperm motility increased
from 31.1% to 48.9%, compared to a slighter
increase from 30.6% to 35.9% in the control
group of infertile men.(28) In the group receiving
vitamin E, 11 pregnancies took place, 9 of which
led to birth; however, no pregnancies happened
in the control group. In another research project,
Martin-Du Pan and Sakkas treated 14 infertile
men with vitamin E and gave another 20 infertile
men glutathione.(29) They concluded that vitamin
E improved sperm count, while glutathione
increased sperm motility. Five years later,
Ibrahim and colleagues investigated the effect of
vitamin E on 65 infertile men.(30) Sperm motility
and sperm count increased from 32.46% and
11.9 × 106/mL to 37.2% and 12.15 × 106/mL
in their patients, respectively. Eskenazi
and associates performed another study on
96 healthy male participants in California
University in 2005.(31) They established the fact
that using antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C,
L-carnitine, and beta carotene) had beneficial
effects on concentration and motility of the
sperm; especially, class A motility. Increased
absorption of antioxidants led to increased effect
on concentration and motility of the sperm.
Therefore, those with higher absorption, had
80 × 106/mL more sperm than those with lower
absorption; furthermore, the number of sperm
with class A motility was 36 × 106/mL more in
those with a high absorption rate.(32)
Crocetin and dimethylcrocetin are derived from
crocin which is a water-soluble carotenoid found
in the stigmas of saffron.(16) Their antioxidant
effect has been documented in several studies.(14-16)
We tested this effect on the sperm of infertile
men and found no significant change in sperm
count after a period of treatment with saffron;
however, significant alterations were observed
in sperm morphology and motility. The normal
morphology of the sperm increased from a mean
of 26.5% to 33.9%; class A motility was initially
Saffron and Semen Parameters of Infertile Men—Heidary et al
258 Urology Journal Vol 5 No 4 Autumn 2008
5.3% that later increased to 11.8%. As for class
B and C motility, the preliminary amounts of
10.1% and 19.8% changed to 17.9% and 25.4%
after the treatment course, respectively. Overall,
the introductory amount of motile sperm
(35.2%) increased to the final amount of 55.1%.
Although the study did not have the strength
of a randomized controlled trial, results were
promising and the effect of saffron on semen
parameters was documented. This can be a basis
of further investigation on saffron ingredients in
infertility research.
Saffron has a positive effect on semen parameters
in terms of sperm motility in men suffering
from idiopathic infertility. It comprises several
ingredients and even though its antioxidative
effect may be the reason behind its positive
value on spermatic parameters, further studies
are required to define its exact mechanism of
action. Moreover, we acknowledge the need for
further studies on larger groups of patients. We
also believe that a longer period of follow-up,
possibly up to 1 year, will be more beneficial in
determining the role of saffron on seminal fluid.
None declared.
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... 15 It has been revealed that saffron (Crocus sativus) improves erection quality in men 16,17 and also positively affects sperm morphology and motility. 18 Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has an aphrodisiac effect by increasing the blood flow to the testicles, sperm count and motility, testicular volume, and serum testosterone levels. 17 Additionally, Stein et al 19 reported that ginger (Zingiber officinale) significantly improves erection quality and sexual satisfaction in middle-aged and older men. ...
Full-text available
Objective: Our study investigated the oldest known Turkish bahname, translated by Musa b. Mes'ud, in comparison with the current literature. Material and methods: First, the original manuscript of the translation was transcribed in Latin. The final version of the text was analyzed in the results. In discussion, findings were examined and interpreted within the framework of current knowledge of sexology, urology, and andrology. Results: Although the work mostly mentions supportive and therapeutic practices in sexual health, it also provides advice on sexuality and sexual life, discussing several topics regarding sexual intercourse types, explaining which ones are good or harmful, and their timing or frequency. The author recommends many foods and compounds or specific drugs and ointments to enhance sexual stamina and avoid erectile dysfunc tion. In addition, he also tries to find solutions to some other sexual health problems related to men and women. These issues are generally evaluated in the context of health; a religious perspective is also provided when needed. Conclusion: Interestingly, the author's recommendations on sexual health and herbal or animal drugs are consistent with the current literature. Nevertheless, some information and suggestions in works are entirely irrational and unscientific. Consequently, this study is an original investigation of the first translated bahname into Turkish. There is no other study examining the bahnames with this method. Thus, we believe that our work will be a significant contribution to the research literature.
... Safran'ın (Crocus sativus) erkeklerde ereksiyon kalitesini arttırdığı (18)(19)(20), ayrıca sperm morfolojisi (yapı) ve motilitesini (hız) olumlu etkilediği gösterilmiştir (21). ...
... [43]. In addition, a variety of other plant extracts such as blueberry, crocus sativus, pomegranate seeds and green tea have also been shown to protect the reproductive system via antioxidant mechanisms [27,[44][45][46][47]. Cistanches Herba is an important TCM that possesses a favorable safety profile and broad medicinal functions for the treatment of infertility, among other conditions [13]. ...
Increasing evidence shows that hypoxia is a cause of male infertility, and hypoxia may be related to oxidative stress (OS). Cistanoside (Cis) is a phenylethanoid glycoside compound that can be extracted from Cistanches Herba and possesses various biological functions. This study aimed to investigate the protective effects of Cis on reproductive damage induced by hypoxia and explore the specific underlying mechanisms. Cell and animal hypoxia experimental models were constructed, and the protective effects of different subtypes of Cis on the male reproductive system were assessed both in vitro and in vivo. The results indicated that hypoxia significantly reduced the viability of GC-1 cells through cell cycle arrest and apoptosis activation, which were associated with increased OS. Moreover, Cis showed strong antioxidative effects both in vitro and in vivo, significantly restoring antioxidant enzyme activities and downregulating reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels while increasing cell viability and decreasing apoptosis. Importantly, the Cis subtypes (Cis-A, Cis-B, Cis-C and Cis-H) studied herein all showed certain antioxidant effects, among which the effects of Cis-B were the most significant. This study demonstrates that Cis markedly attenuates the harmful effects of hypoxia-induced OS by affecting antioxidant enzyme activities in testes and GC-1 cells.
... Vol. 15 ...
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Objective: Male infertility is involved in about half of the casess of infertility and the only sole reason for infertility in 20%-30% of the cases. Following the recent interest in the use of medicinal plants, scientists have sought to clarify their effects on male fertility. This review aimed to summarize the results of studies available to determine the effectiveness, safety and mechanism of herbal treatments in the improvement of male fertility. Materials and methods: Medline/PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Central) databases were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published during 2000-2020. Studies were only included if they adhered to the CONSORT checklist. The methodological quality of the selected studies was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Results: Finally, 20 studies recruiting a total of 1519 individuals were reviewed. These studies compared the effects of eleven different medicinal plants, i.e. ginseng, saffron, Nigella sativa, palm pollen, ADOFON, TOPALAF, sesame, and Mucuna pruriens, on male fertility with those of placebo. All studies (except one) confirmed the beneficial effects of medicinal plants on the improvement of sperm and reproductive parameters and thus male infertility. Conclusion: The existing RCTs indicated the positive effects of medicinal plants on male fertility. Therefore, in order to develop a novel approach to the treatment of male infertility, further clinical trials are warranted to determine the maximum dosage and duration of treatment with herbal medicines and evaluate any potential side effects of such interventions.
... Besides, they should increase the capacity of the seminal plasma clearance and leads to the reduction of ROS level in semen [reviewed by (6)]. In addition to synthetic antioxidants, herbal antioxidants such as Saffron (Crocus sativus) and Pomegranate (Punica granatum) positively affected sperm parameters such as motility and morphology (7,8). Pomegranate from the Punicacea family is an ancient and aboriginal fruit of Iran known as a great antioxidant and used to treat several diseases such as dysentery or respiratory pathologies. ...
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Background: Pomegranate is an ancient fruit containing Punicalagin which has known as an effective antioxidant. Pomegranate peel was recognized as a phenol and tannin source and pomegranate seed contains unique fatty acid (Punicic acid). Limited information exists about the influences of pomegranate peel and seed on antioxidant enzymes and proteins in the male reproduction system. This study was performed to determine the pomegranate peel and seed effects on the expression of antioxidant genes and DJ-1 protein in ram’s testis. Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, twenty-one mature Iranian rams were divided randomly into three groups (n=7 in each group) and fed experimental diets consisted of a control diet (C), a diet containing dry pomegranate seed pulp (S), and a diet containing pomegranate peel (P) for 80 days. All rams were offered isoenergetic and isonitrogenous rations. Testicular tissue samples were collected, and expression of Gpx1, Gpx4, Prdx4, Prdx5, and Sod2 gene was quantified by real-time RT PCR. Western blotting was used to evaluate DJ-1 expression at the protein level. Results: Gpx1 and Sod2 mRNA levels in the peel group were significantly (p <0.05) higher than control. Prdx5 mRNA level was increased (p <0.05) in the seeds group than the control group. Gpx4 and Prdx4 expression were statistically not affected significantly by the experimental diet and only, Data analysis showed a significant (p <0.05) increase (1.5-fold) in the expression level of DJ-1 in peel groups than the control. Conclusion: The expression of antioxidant genes, as well as DJ-1 protein in ram testes, is more influenced by pomegranate peel than seed.
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IntroductionThis study aimed to perform an updated systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of saffron supplementation on oxidative stress markers [malondialdehyde (MDA), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), total oxidant status (TOS), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and prooxidant/antioxidant balance (PAB)] in randomized controlled trials (RCTs).Methods We searched PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane CENTRAL, and Google Scholar until December 2022. Trial studies investigating the effects of oral saffron supplements on MDA, TAC, TOS, GPx, SOD, and PAB concentrations were included in the study. To analyze the results, mean differences (SMD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were pooled using a random effects model. Heterogeneity was assessed using the Cochrane Q and I2 values. Sixteen cases were included in the meta-analysis (468 and 466 subjects in the saffron and control groups, respectively).ResultsIt was found that saffron consumption caused a significant decrease in MDA (SMD: −0.322; 95% CI: −0.53, −0.16; I2 = 32.58%) and TOS (SMD: −0.654; 95% CI: −1.08, −0.23; I2 = 68%) levels as well as a significant increase in TAC (SMD: 0.302; 95% CI: 0.13, 0.47; I2 = 10.12%) and GPx (SMD: 0.447; 95% CI: 0.10, 0.80; I2 = 35%). Subgroup analysis demonstrated a significant reduction in MDA levels in studies with a saffron dosage of >30 mg/day, age of <50 years, and study duration of <12 weeks. Among the limitations of the study, we can point out that the studies were from Iran, the different nature of the diseases included, and were not considered of some potential confounders such as smoking, physical activity, and diet in the studies.DiscussionIn summary, the results showed that saffron has beneficial effects on oxidative stress markers.
Male infertility is linked to several environmental and mutagenic factors. Most of these factors, i.e., lifestyle, radiations, and chemical contaminations, work on the fundamental principles of physics, chemistry, and biology. Principally, it may induce oxidative stress (OS) and produce free radicals within the cells. The negative effect of OS may enhance the reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in male reproductive organs and impair basic functions in a couple’s fertility. Evidence suggests that infertile men have significantly increased ROS levels and a reduced antioxidant capacity compared with fertile men. Although, basic spermatic function and fertilizing capacity depend on a delicate balance between physiological activity of ROS and antioxidants to protect from cellular oxidative injury in sperm, that is essential to achieve pregnancy. The ideal oxidation-reduction (REDOX) equilibrium requires a maintenance of a range of ROS concentrations and modulation of antioxidants. For this reason, the chapter focuses on the effects of ROS in sperm functions and the current concepts regarding the benefits of medical management in men with diminished fertility and amelioration of the effect to improve sperm function. Also, this evidence-based study suggests an increasing rate of infertility that poses a global challenge for human health, urging the need of health care professionals to offer a correct diagnosis, comprehension of the process, and an individualized management of the patients.KeywordsMale fertilityFertility impairmentSperm functionFree radicalsOxidative injury
Bisphenol AF (BPAF) is used as an analog of the endocrine disruptor BPA, whereas safranal is a powerful antioxidant obtained from the saffron plant. In the current study, the possible effects of BPAF and Safranal on some spermatological parameters, reproductive hormones, oxidant/antioxidant enzymes, and histopathological parameters were investigated. A total of 24 male New Zealand rabbits were divided into 4 groups (n= 6 for each group). The groups and the treatments they received by oral gavage for 9 weeks are as follows: The control group received 1 ml/day of corn oil, the BPAF group received 20 mg/kg/day of bisphenol AF, the Safranal group received 100 mg/kg/day safranal, and the treatment group received 20 mg/kg/day bisphenol AF and 100 mg/kg/day safranal. Although the spermatological parameters prior to the experiment revealed no differences among the groups, BPAF treatment reduced sperm quantity and motility, and elevated seminal plasma estrogen levels at the end of the study. BPAF treatments also had a negative impact on testicular MDA and GSH levels. It also caused seminiferous tubule degeneration in testicular tissue. On the other hand, the administration of safranal with BPAF decreased estrogen levels while increasing sperm concentration and motility to control group levels. Thus, the results suggested that safranal could have a beneficial effect in reducing BPAF-induced tissue damage. In conclusion, BPAF may have potentially harmful to the male reproductive system and safranal may exhibit a protective effect against BPAF exposure.
Saffron (Crocus sativus) has demonstrated antispasmodic, antitussive, expectorant, hypolipidemic, memory enhancing, neuroprotective, antinociceptive, antidepressant, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and anticancer effects. Saffron stigma is commonly used as a culinary spice in Middle Eastern dishes. It has been used in traditional Persian medicine for cataracts, kidney stones, sexual dysfunction, stomachache, insomnia, and depression. Saffron may be beneficial for gingivitis, burning mouth syndrome, asthma, ischemic heart disease, dyslipidemia, diabetes, obesity, premenstrual syndrome, menopause, labor induction, male and female sexual dysfunction, fibromyalgia, stroke recovery, cognitive impairment, dementia, anxiety, OCD, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and addiction disorders. This chapter examines some of the scientific research conducted on saffron, both alone and in combination formulas, for treating numerous health conditions. It summarizes results from several human studies of saffron’s use in treating ophthalmological, oral and dental, cardiovascular, cardiometabolic, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, and psychiatric disorders, among many others. Finally, the chapter presents a list of saffron’s active constituents, different Commonly Used Preparations and Dosage, and a section on “Safety and Precaution” that examines side effects, toxicity, and disease and drug interactions.
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This paper reviews the literature on recent research on the chemical composition and pharmacological activities of saffron (Crocus sativus) and its active constituents, mainly as antitumoral, hypolipidemic and tissue oxygenation enhancement agents.
The uses of saffron through the ages are discussed. Originally prized both as a medicament and as a dyestuff, these applications have declined in modern times; it has also been used as a perfume. The primary market now is as a food spice—by far the world’s most expensive.
Objective: To evaluate the effects of oxidative stress on DNA and plasma membrane integrity of human spermatozoa. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: University-based, tertiary-care infertility center. Patient(s): Men (n = 10) undergoing infertility investigation. Intervention(s): Purified populations of sperm with high motility were separated using Percoll density gradients. Then, spermatozoa were incubated with 0, 10, 100, and 200 microM hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) under capacitating conditions. Main outcome measure(s): Motion parameters were assessed by computer analysis. Genomic integrity was examined by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) assay. Plasma membrane integrity was evaluated by the annexin V-binding assay, a measure of phosphatidylserine translocation. Result(s): Under basal conditions, there was a significant and negative relationship between sperm motility and the percentages of sperm with DNA fragmentation and membrane translocation of phosphatidylserine. After a 2-h incubation, there was a significant, dose-dependent effect of H(2)O(2) on motion parameters (decrease) and DNA fragmentation (increase). The percentage of annexin V(-) live (normal) cells declined significantly as the level of oxidative stress increased. Although the percentages of annexin V(+) live cells (sperm depicting translocation of phosphatidylserine) and necrotic cells increased at the highest H(2)O(2) levels, these changes were not significant. Conclusion(s): In vitro sperm incubation with H(2)O(2) induces DNA fragmentation in a dose-dependent fashion. The sublethal effects of oxidative stress on motion parameters were not significantly associated with membrane translocation of phosphatidylserine.
Cellular apoptosis in a tissue may occur for the maintenance of proper ratio of cells or because of toxic effects of free radicals or other agents. Male germ cell apoptosis is pivotal in maintaining the proper functioning of the testis, but it is not clear how free radicals affect germ cells and what the defense mechanisms are that are used by these cells to combat the toxic effects of the products of oxidative stress. This study shows that male germ cells are susceptible to H2O2-induced stress and, upon exposure to H2O2 in vitro, demonstrate a typical apoptotic phenotype that includes DNA fragmentation and formation of DNA ladders. Other changes include considerable accumulation of products of lipid peroxidation in the germ cells after exposure to H2O2. Evidence is presented for the existence of multiple isoforms of glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) that possess both transferase and Se-independent peroxidase activity. Germ cell GST activity increases after H2O2 exposure. If this increase in activity is inhibited with suitable inhibitors, the formation of products of lipid peroxidation is augmented, resulting in germ cell apoptosis. Also, when constitutive GST activity is inhibited, accumulation of products of lipid peroxidation occurs, resulting in increased cellular apoptosis. These data show that GSTs form a part of adaptive response of germ cells to oxidative stress and are important constituents in detoxifying the products of lipid peroxidation.
Infertility is one of the most stressful conditions amongst married couples. Male factor infertility is implicated in almost half of these cases. Recent advances in the field of reproductive medicine have focused the attention of many researchers to consider reactive oxygen species (ROS) as one of the mediators of infertility causing sperm dysfunction. Although, ROS is involved in many physiological functions of human spermatozoa, their excess production results in oxidative stress. Mitochondria and sperm plasma membranes are the two locations of ROS production that involves complex enzyme systems such as creatine kinase and diaphorase. ROS causes damage to the spermatozoa DNA, resulting in increased apoptosis of these cells. The production of ROS is greatly enhanced under the influence of various environmental and life style factors such as pollution and smoking. An effective scavenging system is essential to counteract the effects of ROS. Various endogenous antioxidants belonging to both enzymatic and non-enzymatic groups can remove the excess ROS and prevent oxidative stress. Since, ROS is essential for the normal sperm physiology, rationale use of antioxidants is advocated.
Eleven infertile men were treated with glutathione (600 mg/day IM) for 2 months. The patients were suffering from dyspermia associated with various andrological pathologies. Standard semen and computer analyses of sperm motility were carried out before treatment and after 30 and 60 days of therapy. Glutathione exerted significant effect on sperm motility patterns. Glutathione appears to have a therapeutic effect on some andrological pathologies causing male infertility. © 1992 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.
Glutathione therapy was used for 2 months in a placebo-controlled double-blind cross-over trial of 20 infertile patients with dyspermia associated with unilateral varicocele (VAR) or germ-free genital tract inflammation (INF). The patients received either glutathione (group 1) or placebo (group 2) for 2 months, then they crossed over to the alternative treatment for a further 2 months. The patients were randomly and blindly assigned to treatment (one i.m. injection every other day of either 600 mg glutathione or an equal volume of a placebo preparation). The standard semen analysis and the computer-assisted sperm motility analyses were carried out before treatment and during the trial. Statistical cross-over analysis, case-control study and treatment efficacy test were carried out on groups 1 and 2 and differences in the effects of therapy between VAR and INF patients with varicocele or inflammation were tested. Glutathione therapy demonstrated a statistically significant positive effect on sperm motility, in particular on the percentage of forward motility, the kinetic parameters of the computerized analysis and on sperm morphology. The findings of this study indicate that glutathione therapy could represent a possible therapeutical tool for both of the selected andrological pathologies.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can be detected in the semen of 40% of infertile men, whereas none is detected in semen from normal men. The ROS detected in semen are a reflection of the imbalance between ROS production and degradation. The aim of the present study was to determine whether a lowered scavenging capacity or an increased production of ROS was responsible for the ROS detected in semen samples from infertile men. Two activities were investigated: (1) catalase-like activity, which is responsible for the degradation of H2O2 and (2) superoxide dismutase-like (SOD-like) activity which is responsible for the degradation of .O2-. Catalase-like and SOD-like activities were found in whole seminal plasma, in dialyzed seminal plasma (> 12 kD), in an ultrafiltrate of seminal plasma (< 5 kD) and in spermatozoa. There was no significant difference in the SOD-like activities measured in spermatozoa, or in seminal plasma (whole or fractionated) from samples that did or did not produce ROS. SOD-like activity originated mostly from the high molecular weight components of seminal plasma. However, the catalase-like activity of whole seminal plasma and of spermatozoa was significantly greater (P = 0.01) in those samples that produced ROS as compared to those that did not. The catalase-like activity in dialyzed seminal plasma, and an ultrafiltrate of seminal plasma from semen samples that did or did not produce ROS were not statistically different. The catalase-like activity of the seminal plasma originated equally from high and low molecular weight components.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Capacitation of human spermatozoa is essential for fertilization, and is characterized visually by hyperactivated motility. We have investigated whether reactive oxygen species could induce these two events in human spermatozoa. The addition of xanthine + xanthine oxidase + catalase (X+XO+CAT: generation of superoxide anion and removal of hydrogen peroxide) and foetal cord serum (FCS), a known biological inducer of capacitation and hyperactivation, to spermatozoa, induced levels of hyperactivation (15.4 +/- 1.6% and 8.0 +/- 1.0%, respectively) which were significantly higher than that of controls (5.4 +/- 0.6%). The hyperactivation measured was part of the capacitation process. Furthermore, the addition of superoxide dismutase prevented the capacitation and hyperactivation induced by X+XO+CAT or by FCS. These results suggest that the superoxide anion may be involved in capacitation and hyperactivation of human spermatozoa.