It is well known that neonatal exposure to estrogen induces masculinization or defeminization of the brain. In this study, the effects of neonatal treatment with two kinds of soybean isoflavone aglycone, genistein (GS) and daidzein (DZ), on the estrous cycle and lordosis behavior were investigated. Female rats were injected subcutaneously with 1 mg GS, 1 mg DZ, 100 μg estradiol (E2), or oil daily for 5 days from birth. As a result, vaginal opening was advanced in GS- or E2-treated females. A vaginal smear check indicated that oil- or DZ-treated females showed a constant 4- or 5-day estrous cycle, whereas GS- or E2-treated rats showed a persistent or prolonged estrus. Ovariectomy was performed in all females at 60 days of age. The ovaries in the GS- or E2-treated groups were smaller than those in the oil- and DZ-treated groups and contained no corpora lutea. In the DZ group, although corpora lutea were seen, ovaries were smaller than that of control females. Behavioral tests were carried out after implantation of E2-tubes. All of the oil- or DZ-treated females showed lordosis with a high lordosis quotient (LQ). On the other hand, as male rats, LQs were extremely low in the E2-treated group, when compared to the oil-treated group. In the GS-treated group, the mean LQ was lower than that in the oil-treated group, but higher than those in the E 2-treated female or male groups. These results suggest that genistein acts as an estrogen in the sexual differentiation of the brain and causes defeminization of the brain in regulating lordosis and the estrous cycle in rats. In addition, neonatal daidzein also has some influence on ovarian function.
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