Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Component in soy products causes reproductive problems in laboratory mice


Genistein, a major component of soy, was found to disrupt the development of the ovaries in newborn female mice that were given the product. This study adds to a growing body of literature demonstrating the potentially adverse consequences of genistein on the reproductive system.

This illustration depicts normal egg cell development in mice as schown in the top: the bottom image shows the genistein-treated animals where the abnormal egg clustering occurs.

"Although we are not entirely certain about how these animal studies on genistein translate to the human population, there is some reason to be cautious," said Dr. David A. Schwartz, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). "More clinical studies are needed to determine how exposure during critical windows of development can impact human health."

Genistein is the primary naturally occurring estrogen in plants (called phytoestrogens) and can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Genistein can be found in foods containing soy such as soy-based infant formulas as well as over-the-counter dietary supplements.

The results of this study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with an investigator at Syracuse University, are published in the January issue of Biology of Reproduction.

The NIEHS researchers previously showed that mice given genistein immediately after birth had irregular menstrual cycles, problems with ovulation, and problems with fertility as they reached adulthood. The new study looks at the direct effects of genistein on the ovaries during early development.

"We knew genistein was linked to reproductive problems later in life, but we wanted to find out when the damage occurs," said Retha R. Newbold, MS, a developmental endocrinologist at NIEHS and an author on the study. "The study showed that genistein caused alterations to the ovaries during early development, which is partly responsible for the reproductive problems found in adult mice."

Female mice were injected with three different doses of genistein during their first five days of life. The genistein given to the mice was comparable to what human infants might receive in a soy-based formula, which is approximately 6-9 mg/kg per day. The researchers examined the effects on days 2 through 6.

The researchers found effects at all levels. Mice treated with the high dose (Gen 50 mg/kg) were infertile and mice treated with lower doses were subfertile, meaning they had fewer pups in each litter, and fewer pregnancies. Mice receiving the highest level of genistein, 50 mg/kg per day, had a high percentage of egg cells that remain in clusters, unable to separate and therefore develop abnormally. The researchers explain that oocytes that remain in clusters are less likely to become fertilized based on previous research. The largest difference between the genistein treated and normal mice was found at six days of age where 57 percent of the egg cells in the non-treated ovaries were single or unclustered; and only 36 percent in the genistein treated group were single

We think genistein inhibits the oocytes or egg cells from separating apart," said Wendy Jefferson, Ph.D. of NIEHS and lead researcher on the paper. "Since there are many egg cells in the same follicle instead of just one, the resources from the surrounding cells are spread too thin and they can’t get the support they need to become a mature functioning egg cell."

"You need at least one good healthy single oocyte that is ovulated and fertilized by a sperm to get a healthy baby. Genistein seems to have a way of making this task very difficult," said Newbold.

"I don’t think we can dismiss the possibility that these phytoestrogens are having an effect on the human population," said Dr. Jefferson. "They may not show their effects or be detected until later in life, but chances are they are having an effect."

Robin Mackar | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>