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      Umbelliferone Inhibits Spermatogenic Defects and Testicular Injury in Lead-Intoxicated Rats by Suppressing Oxidative Stress and Inflammation, and Improving Nrf2/HO-1 Signaling

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          Lead (Pb) is an environmental toxic metal that threatens human health. Umbelliferone (UMB) is a coumarin with known medicinal and protective properties against cytotoxicity. This study explored the ameliorative effect of UMB against Pb-induced testicular toxicity in rats, focusing on steroidogenesis, oxidative stress and inflammation.

          Materials and Methods

          Rats received lead acetate (50 mg/kg) and UMB (25, 50 or 100 mg/kg) via oral gavage for 4 weeks.


          Pb-intoxicated rats exhibited testicular tissue injury and decreased serum levels of LH, FSH and testosterone. The count, viability, motility and normal morphology of the sperms were decreased accompanied with downregulated steroidogenesis markers in Pb-induced group. UMB prevented testicular injury, increased serum levels of LH, FSH and testosterone, upregulated steroidogenesis markers and improved the semen quality. In addition, UMB attenuated oxidative stress and oxidative DNA damage, downregulated the expression of pro-inflammatory mediators and Bax, boosted antioxidant defenses and Bcl-2, and upregulated Nrf2/HO-1 signaling in Pb-intoxicated rats.


          UMB prevents Pb-induced testicular injury by suppressing oxidative damage, inflammation and cell death, and boosting antioxidant defenses, Nrf2/HO-1 signaling and pituitary-gonadal axis. Thus, UMB may represent a protective and cost-effective agent against Pb testicular toxicity, pending further investigations to elucidate other underlying mechanisms.

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          Most cited references 63

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          Keap1 represses nuclear activation of antioxidant responsive elements by Nrf2 through binding to the amino-terminal Neh2 domain.

          Transcription factor Nrf2 is essential for the antioxidant responsive element (ARE)-mediated induction of phase II detoxifying and oxidative stress enzyme genes. Detailed analysis of differential Nrf2 activity displayed in transfected cell lines ultimately led to the identification of a new protein, which we named Keap1, that suppresses Nrf2 transcriptional activity by specific binding to its evolutionarily conserved amino-terminal regulatory domain. The closest homolog of Keap1 is a Drosophila actin-binding protein called Kelch, implying that Keap1 might be a Nrf2 cytoplasmic effector. We then showed that electrophilic agents antagonize Keap1 inhibition of Nrf2 activity in vivo, allowing Nrf2 to traverse from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and potentiate the ARE response. We postulate that Keap1 and Nrf2 constitute a crucial cellular sensor for oxidative stress, and together mediate a key step in the signaling pathway that leads to transcriptional activation by this novel Nrf2 nuclear shuttling mechanism. The activation of Nrf2 leads in turn to the induction of phase II enzyme and antioxidative stress genes in response to electrophiles and reactive oxygen species.
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                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                29 September 2020
                : 14
                : 4003-4019
                [1 ]Physiology Department, College of Medicine, King Saud University , Riyadh 11461, Saudi Arabia
                [2 ]Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jouf University , Sakaka 2014, Saudi Arabia
                [3 ]Medical Physiology Department, Medical Research Branch, National Research Centre , Giza 12622, Egypt
                [4 ]Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Qatar University , Doha 2713, Qatar
                [5 ]College of Medicine, Ajman University, Ajman 346 , United Arab Emirates
                [6 ]Physiology Division, Zoology Department, Faculty of Science, Beni-Suef University , Beni-Suef 62514, Egypt
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Ayman M Mahmoud Physiology Division, Zoology Department, Faculty of Science, Beni-Suef University , Beni-Suef62514, EgyptTel +201278355478 Email ayman.mahmoud@science.bsu.edu.eg
                © 2020 Alotaibi et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 10, References: 76, Pages: 17
                Original Research


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