Comparative study on the effect of N-acetyl-cysteine versus sulpiride on experimentally induced stress in ovary of albino rats: a histological, immunohistochemical and biochemical study

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Chronic stress is known to produce significant behavioral, endocrinological, and neurobiological changes. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is commonly used as a safe mucolytic drug. Sulpiride is a selective dopamine antagonist with antipsychotic and antidepressant activity.


As the mechanism of stress is not known the aim of this work was to evaluate the histological and immunohistochemical changes that might occur in rat ovaries after stress exposure and the possible protective effect of sulpiride and NAC.

Materials and methods

Thirty-six rats were divided into four groups: group I was the control group (n=6); group ΙΙ (n=6) was injected with sulpiride at 0.28 mg/kg body weight/day for 1 month; group ΙIΙ (n=6) was injected with NAC at 150 mg/kg body weight intraperitoneally for 5 days; group ΙV (the stress group) (n=18) was divided into three equal subgroups: subgroup ΙVa, in which rats were exposed to crowding only for 1 month, subgroup ΙVb, in which rats were exposed to crowding along with sulpiride treatment for 1 month, and subgroup ΙVc, in which rats were exposed to crowding for 1 month along with NAC treatment for 5 days.


Stress resulted in a significant increase in luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, and prolactin levels and a significant decrease in progesterone and estrogen levels. Sulpiride treatment resulted in a significant decrease in progesterone and estrogen levels and increase in prolactin, with decreased reaction for estrogen receptor. NAC led to a significant increase in the level of estrogen and progesterone, with no effects on other parameters, and increased reaction for estrogen receptor. The ovary of both the stress and the sulpiride group revealed cystically dilated follicles lined with granulose cells separated by a proliferation of ovarian stroma (luteinized stromal cells). NAC-treated group showed decreased number of atretic follicles and thickness of theca layer.


NAC had a protective role against the induced damage but sulpiride did not counteract the impairing effects of stress. It is beneficial to use NAC in people exposed to stress.

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