Aim: Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L) is a traditional Uighur herb. In this study we investigated the estrogenic activities of the isoflavones extracted from chickpea sprouts (ICS) in ovariectomized rats.
Methods: Ten-week-old virgin Sprague-Dawley female rats were ovariectomized (OVX). The rats were administered via intragastric gavage 3 different doses of ICS (20, 50, or 100 mg·kg(-1)·d(-1)) for 5 weeks. Their uterine weight and serum levels of 17β-estradiol (E2), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) were measured. The epithelial height, number of glands in the uterus, and number of osteoclasts in the femur were histologically quantified, and the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) was assessed immunohistochemically. Bone structural parameters, including bone mineral density (BMD), bone volume/tissue volume (BV/TV), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th) and trabecular separation (Tb.Sp) were measured using Micro-CT scanning.
Results: Treatments of OVX rats with ICS (50 or 100 mg·kg(-1)·d(-1)) produced significant estrogenic effects on the uteruses, including the increases in uterine weight, epithelial height and gland number, as well as in the expression of the cell proliferation marker PCNA. The treatments changed the secretory profile of ovarian hormones and pituitary gonadotropins: serum E2 level was significantly increased, while serum LH and FSH levels were decreased compared with the vehicle-treated OVX rats. Furthermore, the treatments significantly attenuated the bone loss, increased BMD, BV/TV and Tb.Th and decreased Tb.Sp and the number of osteoclasts. Treatment of OVX rats with the positive control drug E2 (0.25 mg·kg(-1)·d(-1)) produced similar, but more prominent effects.
Conclusion: ICS exhibits moderate estrogenic activities as compared to E2 in ovariectomized rats, suggesting the potential use of ICS for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis caused by estrogen deficiency.