Extracts of Dioscorea coomposita or Dioscorea villosa are consumed as supplemental health foods at the time of climacteric. The extracts contain large amounts of the plant steroid, diosgenin. Here, we studied the safety and efficacy of diosgenin against skin aging at the time of climacteric. In vitro, diosgenin enhanced DNA synthesis in a human 3D skin equivalent model, and increased bromodeoxyuridine uptake and intracellular cAMP level in adult human keratinocytes. The increase of bromodeoxyuridine uptake by diosgenin was blocked by an adenylate cyclase inhibitor, but not by antisense oligonucleotides against estrogen receptor alpha, estrogen receptor beta or an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR30, indicating the involvement of cAMP but not estrogen receptor alpha, estrogen receptor beta or GPR30. In vivo, administration of diosgenin improved the epidermal thickness in the ovariectomized mice, a climacteric model, without altering the degree of fat accumulation. In order to examine the safety of diosgenin, diosgenin and 17beta-estradiol were administered to breast cancer-burdened mice. The results revealed that while 17beta-estradiol accelerated the tumor growth, diosgenin did not show this effect. Our finding, a restoration of keratinocyte proliferation in aged skin, suggests that diosgenin may have potential as a safe health food for climacteric.
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In addition to the mentioned side effects several others have been reported. In both males and females acne are frequently reported, as well as hypertrophy of sebaceous glands, increased tallow excretion, hair loss, and alopecia. There is some evidence that anabolic steroid abuse may affect the immune system, leading to a decreased effectiveness of the defense system. Steroid use decreases the glucose tolerance, while there is an increase in insulin resistance. These changes mimic Type II diabetes. These changes seem to be reversible after abstention from the drugs.