This study investigated the therapeutic potential of adlay on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and its possible underlying mechanism. The active anti-androgenic components in adlay were further analyzed. Rat ovarian theca cells were treated with human chorionic gonadotropin to stimulate androstenedione (AD) secretion. The ethyl acetate subfraction obtained from the ethanolic extract of adlay hull (AHE-EA) exerted superior efficacy against AD production. Four major constituents in AHE-EA, including 5,7-dihydroxychromone, liquiritigenin, isoliquiritigenin, and homoeriodictyol, were identified by HPLC-MS and exhibited strong inhibition against high AD levels. In a DHEA-induced PCOS rat model, administration of AHE-EA significantly decreased serum AD levels, improved hyperglycemia and insulin resistance, and attenuated oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in the ovaries. Histopathological morphology of ovarian tissues confirmed that AHE-EA could restore the estrus cycles and normal ovarian histology. Mechanistic characterization demonstrated that AHE-EA inhibited DHEA-induced hyperandrogenemia through modulate steroidogenic acute regulatory protein-related steroidogenesis in theca cells.
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