Journal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A

Prenatal exposure to the phytoestrogen daidzein resulted in persistent changes in ovarian surface epithelial cell height, folliculogenesis, and estrus phase length in adult Sprague-Dawley rat offspring.

PMID 26039681


Daidzein (DZ), an isoflavone with the potential to interfere with estrogen signaling, is found in soy products, which have gained popularity due to purported beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and skeletal systems and potential antineoplastic properties. However, the ingestion of phytoestrogens has been associated with impaired reproductive function in many species. The aim of this study was to determine the long-term effects on the ovaries of rat offspring exposed to DZ or ethinyl estradiol (EE) during prenatal development. Gravid rats were administered either vehicle or 5 or 60 mg DZ/kg body weight/d or 0.002 mg 17-α EE /kg body weight/d on gestational days 6-21. Ovarian-related endpoints were investigated during adulthood in female offspring. The mean cell height of the ovarian surface epithelium was significantly reduced in all treated groups. Alterations in folliculogenesis included increased follicular atresia, a reduction in secondary and tertiary follicle numbers, and cyst formation. An elevated prevalence of a slightly prolonged estrus phase was also observed. The morphological changes to the ovarian surface epithelium are consistent with an antiproliferative effect, while ovarian folliculogenesis was adversely affected. The effects of the high dose DZ were similar to those observed with 17-α EE.