Effects of licorice on sex hormones and reproductive system
|Andrea Isidori||Aggiungi Tutor di riferimento (Professore o Ricercatore afferente allo stesso Dipartimento del Proponente)|
The potential clinical effects of licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.) and its extracts have been investigated since ancient times. The main known endocrine effect of licorice consumption is its mineralocorticoid-like effect, resulting in pseudohyperaldosteronism and arterial hypertension through the inhibition of 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11ßHSD) type 2 enzyme. However, it seems that this is not the only endocrine effect produced by licorice, and a role in the reproductive system has been proposed. In fact, preclinical studies showed that licorice displays antiandrogen and estrogen-like properties. Several bioactive licorice compounds, such as glycyrrhetinic acid and glycyrrhizin, lower androgen secretion mostly via enzyme inhibition. Licorice consumption seems to be associated with a slight reduction in testosterone levels in males, although existing data are poor and conflicting. Because of the antiandrogenic properties, a fascinating effect of licorice in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and a potential fertility-promoting role has been proposed, but data are scarce. Extreme caution is needed when using herbal remedies. Notwithstanding, licorice has shown great promise. Hence, it may be beneficial to conduct an observational study to confirm its benefits on reproductive system and safety, particularly in fertility-affecting diseases. In this context, the aim of this study is to evaluate the antiandrogenic effects and cardiovascular safety of licorice administration in healthy female and males. The primary endpoint is to evaluate the change of total testosterone levels (measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry- LCMS / MS) in males and pre-menopausal female healthy volunteers, highlighting the need of studies that take into account sex-differences.