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Genistein, a Phytoestrogen, Effectively Modulates Luteinizing Hormone and Prolactin Secretion in Ovariectomized Ewes during Seasonal Anestrus

Romanowicz K. · Misztal T. · Barcikowski B.
Kielanowski Institute of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jabłonna n/Warsaw, Poland Neuroendocrinology 2004;79:73–81 (DOI:10.1159/000076630)


Through binding with estrogen receptors, phytoestrogens, plant-derived estrogen-like compounds, affect numerous reproductive functions. It is not known whether these compounds are capable of evoking effective changes in luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin (PRL) secretion in ewes by acting directly within the central nervous system (CNS). The hypothesis studied was that genistein, infused for several hours into the third ventricle, could immediately affect LH and PRL secretion in ovariectomized (OVX) ewes during seasonal anestrus. Two doses of genistein, 1 µg/100 µl/h (total 4 µg, n = 7) and 10 µg/100 µl/h (total 40 µg, n = 7), were infused intracerebroventricularly from 12.00 to 16.00 h and blood samples were collected from 8.00 to 20.00 h at 10-min intervals. Randomly selected ewes were infused with a vehicle (control, n = 5). The mean plasma LH concentration in control ewes was significantly (p < 0.01) higher during infusion of the vehicle than before the infusion. It remained on an insignificantly changed level after the infusion. The frequency of LH pulses in control ewes did not differ significantly before, during, or after vehicle infusion. In ewes infused with a lower dose of genistein, plasma LH concentrations decreased significantly (p < 0.001) after the infusion, as compared with the values noted before and during genistein infusion. Only a tendency towards a decrease in LH pulse frequency occurred after infusion of a lower dose of genistein. In ewes infused with a higher dose of genistein, the plasma LH concentration decreased significantly (p < 0.01) after phytoestrogen administration as compared with the values noted before and during infusion. The frequency of LH pulses was also significantly (p < 0.01) lower after genistein administration. Because the changes in PRL secretion were more dynamic in response to genistein infusion, the statistical analysis included 2-hour periods. The mean plasma PRL concentration in control animals was significantly enhanced (p < 0.01) only during the first 2-hour period of sampling. After that it decreased and remained on an unchanged level up to the end of sampling. Similar changes in PRL secretion were observed in both experimental groups before genistein infusion. In contrast, significant (p < 0.01 to p < 0.001) increases in PRL concentration were noted regularly during and shortly after the genistein infusion in either low-dose or high-dose genistein-infused ewes, compared with the concentrations noted before genistein treatment. Plasma PRL concentrations during and after genistein infusion in both experimental groups were also significantly higher than the control (p < 0.01 to p < 0.001). The presented data demonstrate that genistein, a phytoestrogen, may effectively modulate LH and PRL secretion in OVX ewes by acting within the CNS.


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