Navigation Links
New study shows compounds from soy affect brain and reproductive development

Two hormone-like compounds linked to the consumption of soy-based foods can cause irreversible changes in the structure of the brain, resulting in early-onset puberty and symptoms of advanced menopause in research animals, according to a new study by researchers at North Carolina State University. The study is a breakthrough in determining how these compounds can cause reproductive health problems, as well as in providing a key building block for how to treat these problems.

The study is the first to show that the actual physical organization of a region of the brain that is important for female reproduction can be significantly altered by exposure to phytoestrogens or plant-produced chemicals that mimic hormones during development. Specifically, the study finds that the compounds alter the sex-specific organization of the hypothalamus a brain region that is essential to the regulation of puberty and ovulation. The study also shows that the phytoestrogens could cause long-term effects on the female reproductive system.

While the study examined the impact of these compounds on laboratory rats, neurotoxicologist Dr. Heather Patisaul who co-authored the study says the affected "circuitry" of the brain is similar in both rats and humans. Patisaul is an assistant professor in NC State's Department of Zoology. Her co-author is Heather Bateman, a doctoral student in the department.

Patisaul says this finding is extremely important because, while the changes in brain structure cannot be reversed, "if you understand what is broken, you may be able to treat it." Patisaul says she is in the process of evaluating the effects of these compounds on the ovaries themselves. Patisaul says that this study is also "a step towards ascertaining the effects of phytoestrogens on developing fetuses and newborns." Patisaul adds that these phytoestrogenic compounds cross the placental barrier in humans and that, while many people are concerned about the effects of man-made compounds on human health, it is important to note that some naturally occurring substances can have similar effects.

In the study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Neurotoxicology, the researchers exposed newborn rats to physiologically relevant doses of the phytoestrogens genistein and equol, and then looked at reproductive health markers in the rats throughout their adulthood. The neonatal stage of development in rats is comparable to the latter stages of pregnancy for humans, Patisaul says. Genistein is a phytoestrogen that is found in various plants, including soybeans and soy-based foods. Equol is a hormone-like compound that is formed when bacteria found in the digestive system metabolize another phytoestrogen. However, only approximately a third of humans have the necessary bacteria to produce equol.

The study shows that both genistein and equol result in the early disruption of the rats' estrus cycle which would be corollary to early onset of menopause in a human. The study also showed that genistein caused the early onset of puberty. The disruption of the estrus cycle could stem from problems with the brain or the ovaries, so the researchers decided to determine if the compounds had any effect on brain development or function.

Patisaul explains that the brains of both female rats and female humans have a region that regulates ovulation. "That part of the brain," Patisaul says, "is organized by hormones during development which is the neonatal stage for rats and during gestation for humans." Patisaul says the new study shows that the female brain is "critically sensitive" to genistein and equol during this crucial stage of development and that this may indicate that the brain is also especially sensitive during this period to all phytoestrogens and possibly other man-made chemicals, such as bisphenol-A.


Contact: Matt Shipman
North Carolina State University

Related biology news :

1. Low-gravity training machine reduces joint, muscle impacts, says CU-Boulder study
2. Study identifies changes to DNA in major depression and suicide
3. Ante-partum bed rest moms get active in Case Western Reserve University study
4. Study suggests 86 percent of Americans could be overweight or obese by 2030
5. OSU study shows exposure to bad air raises blood pressure
6. New study spotlights National Institutes of Health grant outcomes for clinical research
7. Antimicrobial sutures reduce infections in brain shunt surgery, study finds
8. Plasma DNA level is a reliable marker of recurrent esophageal cancer, study finds
9. Landscape study may offer solutions for fire managers
10. Study: Typhoons bury tons of carbon in the oceans
11. Study shows parasites outweigh predators
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/20/2015)... 2015 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... growing mobile commerce market and creator of the Wocket® ... was recently interviewed on The RedChip Money Report ... weekend on Bloomberg Europe , Bloomberg Asia, Bloomberg ... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... YORK , Nov. 19, 2015  Although some ... market is dominated by a few companies, according to ... companies own 51% of the market share of the ... The World Market for Molecular Diagnostic s ... "The market is still controlled by one company ...
(Date:11/18/2015)... New York , November 18, 2015 ... Market Research has published a new market report titled ... Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2015 - 2021. According to the ... in 2014 and is anticipated to reach US$29.1 bn ... to 2021. North America ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ... has joined the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, alongside ... are standing with the Obama Administration to demonstrate an ongoing ... strong outcome to the COP21 Paris ... --> Sarnia, Canada . --> ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  Culprits beware, ... assistant chemistry professor Jan Halámek, is taking crime ...   --> ...   --> --> ... UAlbany have discovered a straightforward concept for identifying ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Zenith Epigenetics Corp. ("Zenith" or ... Norman C.W. Wong to its Board of Directors to ... Zenith with a wealth of experience as co-founder of Resverlogix, ... --> --> Dr. Wong ... board of directors. Zenith,s long standing expertise in epigenetics and ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 ... ... announced a new globally touring exhibition Jurassic World: The Exhibition, opening in March ... Exhibition will embark on a worldwide tour including several North American tour dates. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: