Potential reproductive toxicity of Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome, the most commonly used Chinese medicine for threatened miscarriage

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Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome (LAR) is the most commonly used Chinese medicine to prevent early pregnancy loss due to threatened miscarriage. However, its safety profile during pregnancy is still not available. Here we aimed to identify the potential adverse effects of LAR on embryo-fetal development as well as prenatal and post-natal growth.


Pregnant mice, rats and rabbits were orally administered with LAR extracts in various doses (from 1×, 2×, 3× and up to 6× clinical doses) at different gestational periods (implantation, gastrulation, organogenesis, maturation and whole gestation). Maternal effects on weight loss, implantation failure and fetal resorption and perinatal effects on developmental delay, growth restriction and congenital malformations were studied.


In mice, with early LAR exposure, a significant decrease in fetal growth parameters and a significant increase in post-implantation loss were identified. With late LAR exposure, significant increases in gestational duration as well as prenatal and post-natal mortality were found. At high clinical doses, congenital skeletal malformations were recorded. In rabbits, fetal resorption, hydrops fetalis and short ear anomaly were observed. No significant adverse effects were found in rats.


Potential reproductive toxicity of LAR in pregnant animals was identified within the clinical dose. Caution should be taken in clinical applications of LAR during pregnancy.

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