Genistein affects the morphology of pituitary ACTH cells and decreases circulating levels of ACTH and corticosterone in middle-aged male rats
Šošić-Jurjević, Branka T.
Brkić, Dejan D
Sekulić, Milka I.
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The soybean phytoestrogen, genistein, is increasingly consumed as an alternative therapeutic for age-related diseases, namely cardiovascular conditions, cancer and osteoporosis. However, despite the beneficial effects on health, concern has been raised that this isoflavone also acts as an endocrine-disrupting chemical. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of genistein on immunohistomorphometric features of pituitary adrenocorticotropic cells (ACTH) and blood concentrations of ACTH and corticosterone in orchidectomized middle-aged male rats. Sixteen-month-old Wistar rats were divided into sham-operated (SO), orchidectomized (Orx) and genistein-treated orchidectomized (Orx+G) groups. Genistein (30mg/kg/day) was administered subcutaneously for three weeks, while the control groups received the vehicle alone. ACTH cells were identified by the peroxidase-antiperoxidase (PAP) immunohistochemical procedure. Circulating concentrations of ACTH and corticosterone were measured by immunoassay. Orchidectomy reduced (p<0.05) the cell volume and the relative volume of ACTH cells in comparison to SO rats. Genistein treatment further decreased (p<0.05) these morphometric parameters and reduced (p<0.05) circulating ACTH and corticosterone concentrations by more than 20% in comparison to both Orx and SO rats. In conclusion, genistein modulated the immunohistomorphometric features of ACTH cells and decreased blood ACTH and corticosterone levels, which supports evidence that this isoflavone affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and suppresses glucocorticoid hormone secretion.