Morphological changes in the organs of ewes grazing oestrogenic subterranean clover

Res Vet Sci. 1977 Mar;22(2):216-21.


The morphological effects of phytooestrogen exposure were determined in 10 ewes exposed to subterranean clover for 60 days, compared with 10 controls. In a second experiment, the time course of the development of the changes was studied. Typically oestrogenic changes were observed in ovary, oviduct, uterus, cervix, vagina and mammary glands. There was an early increase in cervical mucus, followed by a decrease. The delta basophils of the pituitary became degranulated, and hyperactive in appearance. The adrenal and thyroid glands increased in weight, and thyroid epithelium increased in height. There appeared to be a temporary increase in neurophysin storage in the hypothalamus, and shrunken, hyperchromatic neurones were observed in the hypothalamus of some affected ewes. All changes were observed within three weeks of exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cervix Uteri / pathology
  • Endometritis / pathology
  • Endometritis / veterinary
  • Estrogens / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hyperplasia
  • Hypothalamus / pathology
  • Infertility, Female / chemically induced
  • Infertility, Female / veterinary
  • Isoflavones / isolation & purification
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / pathology
  • Ovary / pathology
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / pathology
  • Plant Poisoning / pathology
  • Plant Poisoning / veterinary
  • Poaceae*
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases / pathology*
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Uterus / pathology
  • Vagina / pathology


  • Estrogens
  • Isoflavones