Genistein stimulates the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in adult rats: morphological and hormonal study
Medigović, Ivana M.
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Genistein, the soy isoflavone structurally similar to estradiol, is widely consumed for putative beneficial health effects. However, there is a lack of data about the genisteins' effects in adult males, especially its effects on the hipothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Therefore, the present study was carried out to investigate the effects of genistein on the HPA axis in orchidectomized adult rats, and to create a parallel with those of estradiol. Changes in the hypothalamic corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) neurons and pituitary corticotrophs (ACTH cells) were evaluated stereologically, while corticosterone and ACTH levels were determined biochemically. Orchidectomy (Orx) provoked the enlargement (p<0.05) of: hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus volume (60%), percentage of CRH neurons (23%), percentage of activated CRH neurons (45%); pituitary weight (15%) and ACTH level (57%). In comparison with Orx, estradiol treatment provoked the enlargement (p<0.05) of: percentage of CRH neurons (28%), percentage of activated CRH neurons (2.7-fold), pituitary weight (131%) and volume (82%), ACTH level (69%), the serum (103%) and adrenal tissue (4.8 fold) level of corticosterone. Clearly, Orx has induced the increase in HPA axis activity, which even augments after estradiol treatment. Also, compared to Orx, genistein treatment provoked the enhancement (p<0.05) of: percentage of activated CRH neurons (2.3-fold), pituitary weight (28%) and volume (21%), total number of ACTH cells (22%) ACTH level (45%), the serum (2.6-fold) and adrenal tissue (2.8 fold) level of corticosterone. It can be concluded that an identical tendency, concerning the HPA axis parameters, follows estradiol and genistein administration to the orchidectomized adult rats.