Urtica fissa E. Pritz. are important herbs and have been traditionally used as ethnic medicine to treat rheumatism, inflammation, diabetes, and benign prostatic hyperplasia by the Han, Uighur, and other minorities in China, and also as an aphrodisiac in Uighur medicine.
To determine the effect and potential mechanism of 3, 4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran (DVTF), one of the main active components isolated from U. fissa on hypogonadism in diabetic mice.
The active compound DVTF was extracted and separated from the roots of U. fissa and identified using mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A mouse model of diabetes was established using high fat and sugar diet combined with streptozotocin. In the treatment groups, mice were received different doses of DVTF for 4 weeks. Fasting blood glucose levels, physiological and biochemical indices, and the mating behavior of DM mice were analyzed. Changes in testicular morphology were assessed using light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. The expression of testosterone synthesis-related signaling proteins was detected using western blotting. Molecular docking was used to determine the binding ability of DVTF to Nur77.
In diabetic mice, body weight and fasting blood glucose levels decreased. Mating behavior, including mount latency, mount number, and intromission number, was improved following DVTF treatment. Plasma total testosterone, free testosterone, and insulin resistance were positively associated with the recovery of testicular pathological structures in diabetic mice. DVTF treatment increased the expression of Nur77, StAR, and P450scc in the testes of diabetic mice. DVTF and Nur77 formed chemical bonds at five sites.
As one of the main active components of U. fissa, DVTF exert potential therapeutic effects on testicular injury and hypogonadism caused by diabetes through activating the expression of Nur77 and testosterone synthesis related proteins. Our result will provide new insight for the clinical application of Urtica fissa E. Pritz., especially DVTF, as a potential drug candidate in the treatment of hypogonadism in diabetes.

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