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Medicinal Plants and Female Reproduction Disorders due to Oxidative Stress

Author(s): Deutcheu Nienga Sorelle, Ngoula Ferdinand, Vemo Bertin Narcisse, Tchoumboue

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive oxidizing agents. Cells, under aerobic conditions, have a defence system against ROS, and in normal circumstances, there is an appropriate balance between pro?oxidants and antioxidants. When an overproduction of ROS develops or the body fails to eliminate ROS in excess, oxidative stress arises, during which ROS accumulate and damage cells and tissues. Besides their noxious effects, accumulating data have shown that controlled of adequate ROS concentrations exerts physiologic functions. Different studies have confirmed the presence of ROS and the transcripts of the various antioxidant enzymes in the female reproductive tract. When ROS production overwhelms antioxidant defenses, oxidative stress occurs, which may deeply threaten the anatomical and functional integrity of the genital tract. This review addresses the main physiological and pathological roles exerted by ROS and their scavenging systems in several processes involved in the main physiological functions of the female reproductive tract of domestic animals. Stress, of both physical and emotional origin, has effects on the reproductive system. Accordingly, impaired follicular development appears to be the most common cause of reproductive dysfunction attributable to stress in the human female. New developments in the understanding of the role of stress in reproduction must take into consideration the many differences between the hormonal responses to stress in the human and laboratory animals. Particularly, the involvement of the oxidant system in several reproductive processes is investigated, such as follicular development, ovarian steroidogenesis, ovulation, corpus luteum formation and function, luteolysis, germ cell function, maintenance of pregnancy and beginning of parturition. The use of medicinal plants has gained the world to solve health problems, notably reproductive disturbance. A large number of tropical plants and their extracts have shown beneficial therapeutic activities including fertility enhancement, antioxidant, anti-microbial and aphrodisiac activities.

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