Effects of Hydro-alcoholic Extract of Red Dried Stigmas of Crocus sativus L. Flowers (saffron) on the Levels of Pituitary-ovary Hormones and Folliculogenesis in Rats

Document Type : Original Article


Biology Department, Islamic Azad University Kazeroun Branch, Kazeroun, Iran


In the present study the effects of a hydro-alcoholic saffron (Crocus sativus) extract on pituitary-ovary axis and folliculogenesis were investigated. The aim was to study the possible role of saffron in female fertility and thereby show its usefulness in treating infertility and reproductive disorders in females.

Materials and methods
The study consisted of 50 adult female Sprague dawley rats that were divided into five groups of tena control sham and three experimental groups. The experimental groups received intreperitoneal injections of 1 2 and 4 dg/kg body weight (B.W) extract respectively over a ten day period. The control group was untreated and the sham group received only distilled water. After 10 days blood samples were taken from all groups in order to measure the serum levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) estradiol and progesterone hormones. Ovaries were removed sectioned and examined by light microscope. The results were analyzed by ANOVA and TUKEY tests.

Statistical analysis of the results showed a significance increase (p≤0.05) in the levels of FSH and estradiol in the experimental groups that received 2 and 4 dg/kg B.W extract with respect to the control group; while the level of LH hormone only rose in the experimental group that was administered the maximum dose (4 dg/kg). In addition the results indicated that administration of 2 and 4 dg/kg extract had a significant effect on ovarian weight. Histological studies of the ovarian sections showed that administration of 2 and 4 dg/kg extracts enhanced folliculogenesis and increased the numbers of secondary follicles in the ovary.

According to the results of this and other studies the hydro-alcoholic extract of saffron may enhance pituitary-ovary axis activities boost the levels of FSH LH and estradiol in addition to stimulate folliculogenesis in adult female rats.