Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common reproductive endocrine disorders which are involved in complicated and unknown pathogenic mechanisms. Paeoniflorin (PAE) plays a significant anti-fibrotic role according to previous studies. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of PAE on ovarian fibrosis and its underlying mechanism in PCOS development. An animal model of PCOS was established by subcutaneous injection of 60mg/kg/d dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for 35 consecutive days. Rats in PAE-L, PAE-M and PAE-H groups were administrated by gavage with PAE (20, 40, 80 mg/kg/d) for 4 weeks. Our results indicated that DHEA-induced PCOS rats showed similar phenotypes with PCOS patients. PAE could significantly block the DHEA-induced decline of ovary weight and organ coefficient, shorten the prolonged diestrus period, and regulate the irregular estrous cycle of PCOS rats. Moreover, PAE regulated reproductive hormone levels and improved ovarian fibrosis induced by DHEA. PAE treatment could also reduce the expression levels of TGF-β1 and Smad3, and increase the expression levels of Smad7 and MMP2. In conclusion, PAE significantly attenuated the ovarian fibrosis in PCOS, which could be mediated by TGF-β1/Smads signaling pathway. Herein, PAE can be used for the treatment of ovarian fibrosis in PCOS progression.
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