Effects of dietary inclusion of Lepidium sativum (garden cress) seed on plasma luteinizing hormone and reproductive performance in female rabbits
Background: Lepidium sativum (LS) has been reported to have multi-purpose medicinal uses. For instance, rubefacient, antihypertensive, hepatoprotective, galactagogue and aphrodisiac properties are well documented; however, there are few controversial reports particularly as related to reproduction. Also, no known study has identified the mechanisms underlying the action of this plant on reproduction. This study was aimed at evaluating the effects of dietary supplementation with LS on luteinizing hormone and reproductive performance in female rabbits.
Methods: A total of twenty, nulliparous Chinchilla female rabbits (6.5-month old) were randomly assigned to four treatment groups with five (n=5) rabbits in each group. Diet containing either LS seed powder at 0% (Control), 5%, 7% or 10% were given ad-libitum to female rabbits two weeks pre-pregnancy and throughout the entire period of pregnancy. Blood samples were collected through the marginal ear vein from each female rabbit weekly during pre-pregnancy and pregnancy periods to evaluate Luteinizing hormone (LH). Conception rate, gestation length, litter size, litter weight, number of stillbirths and runts were recorded. Data obtained were analyzed using ANOVA.
Results: LS seed inclusion significantly increased (P<0.05) conception rate and plasma LH concentration in dose dependent manner, from 5%- to the 7%- and then decreased at 10%-LS seed level. There was a significant decrease (P<0.05) in gestation length in does fed 10% LS-based diet. Furthermore, the litter weights and number of live kid born were significantly (P<0.05) decreased in all LS groups. In contrast to zero incidence in control rabbits, high incidence of stillbirth and runt were recorded in all LS-based groups.
Conclusion: The results show that inclusion of LS seed in rabbit chow increases conception rate and plasma LH levels which were attributed to the phytoestrogens constituent in the seed. Despite the positive role of LS seeds on conception rate and LH, LS seed may possess fetal developmental toxicity effects due to high incidence of stillbirth and extremely low birth weight of newborn recorded.
Keywords: Lepidium sativum seed, rabbit, reproductive performance, luteinizing hormone, pregnancy, foetus