Effects of phytoestrogens on the ovarian and pituitary phenotypes of estrogen-deficient female aromatase knockout mice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Dietary phytoestrogens are promoted as alternatives to synthetic estrogens for hormone therapy, however, their effects on the reproductive axis have not been exhaustively studied in vivo. Female aromatase knockout mouse (ArKO) mice are estrogen-free, anovulatory, and have a block in folliculogenesis, hemorrhagic cysts, and development of Sertoli cells within their ovaries. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the (ArKO) mouse as a model to test the effects of phytoestrogen replacement in vivo. DESIGN: We examined the effects of phytoestrogen-supplemented diets on the reproductive organ weights, ovarian morphology, gonadotropin levels, and the transcript levels of ovarian somatic cell and steroidogenic markers of wild-type and ArKO mice. RESULTS: The genistein diet significantly increased uterine and ovarian weights of ArKO mice. The soy, and to a larger extent the genistein diet, improved ovarian morphology. Morphological Sertoli cell transformation in ArKO mice was decreased by both diets, whereas the gene expression of Sertoli cell markers was not affected. The soy diet increased both gonadotropins in both genotypes compared with those animals on the soy-free diet. The genistein diet reduced FSH levels in ArKO mice, correlating with increased ovarian inhibin subunit expression. CONCLUSION: Phytoestrogens are estrogenic in ArKO mice. Specifically, they can affect serum gonadotropin levels, and offset the development of Sertoli cells and hemorrhagic cysts within the ovaries. However, the effects on the mouse ovary depended on the type of dietary phytoestrogen. Further studies using the ArKO mouse are required to determine the effective doses and treatment regimes for phytoestrogens as endocrine modulators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174 - 185
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Cite this