Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Jul;111(9):1158-63.

Effects of the isoflavones genistein and equol on the gonadal development of Japanese medaka Oryzias latipes.

Author information

  • 1Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


The estrogenic isoflavone compound genistein recently has been found in the effluents of sewage treatment plants and pulp mills, and the related compound equol has been detected in the runoff from agricultural fields treated with hog manure. Waterborne exposures of Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) to equol from soon after hatch to approximately 100 days posthatch induced gonadal intersex (i.e., testis-ova) in males at incidences of 10 and 87% in equol treatments of 0.4 and 0.8 micro g/L, respectively. Exposure to the highest test concentration of genistein, 1,000 micro g/L, also caused a low incidence (i.e., 12%) of gonadal intersex in male medaka. The ovaries of female medaka from both equol and genistein treatments showed delayed oocyte maturation, atretic oocytes, an enlarged ovarian lumen, proliferation of somatic stromal tissue, and primordial germ cells; responses were concentration dependent. Alterations to externally visible secondary sex characteristics occurred in medaka exposed to both equol and genistein. In treatments with 1,000 micro g/L genistein, 72% of male medaka (as identified by the gonadal phenotype) showed feminized secondary sex characteristics. Gonadal intersex and alterations to secondary sex characteristics have been noted in several fish populations around the world. This laboratory study indicates that isoflavone compounds should be considered candidate estrogenic compounds that may be involved in the alteration of sexual development in feral fish populations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk