Reproductive sequelae in female rats after in utero and neonatal exposure to the phytoestrogen genistein

Fertil Steril. 1998 Sep;70(3):440-7. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(98)00185-x.


Objective: To determine reproductive sequelae in female rats after in utero and lactational dietary exposure to genistein.

Design: Experimental animal study.

Setting: University laboratory.

Animal(s): Sprague Dawley rats.

Intervention(s): Pregnant rats were fed control rat chow or rat chow incorporated with genistein (approximately 50 microg/d) beginning on day 17 of gestation and continuing until the end of lactation (postpartum day 21). Genistein-exposed female pups were divided into two groups on day 21. One group continued to receive a genistein-added diet (G70); the other group was changed to a control diet (Ex-G). At necropsy (days 21 and 70), blood and reproductive tissues were collected.

Main outcome measure(s): Serum levels of gonadotropins and gonadal steroids and histopathologic examination of the ovaries.

Result(s): The weight of the ovaries and uterus and serum levels of E2 and progesterone in genistein-exposed rats on day 21 (G21) were significantly reduced compared with control rats. On day 70, serum levels of E2, progesterone, LH, and FSH were similar in all groups. Atretic follicles and secondary interstitial glands were more common in G70 and Ex-G rats compared with control rats. Cystic rete ovarii was observed in some G70 and Ex-G rats.

Conclusion(s): Our data indicate that in utero and lactational exposure to dietary genistein adversely affects reproductive processes in the adult female rat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estrus / drug effects
  • Female
  • Genistein / blood
  • Genistein / toxicity*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Plant Growth Regulators / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reproduction / drug effects*


  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Genistein