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Arch Toxicol. 2009 Jun;83(6):601-8. doi: 10.1007/s00204-008-0400-0. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

Lactational coumestrol exposure increases ovarian apoptosis in adult rats.

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  • 1Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology Division, National Institute of Toxicological Research, Korea Food and Drug Administration, 194 Tongil-ro, Eunpyung-gu, Seoul 122-704, South Korea.


This study is the first to examine the increased apoptosis in the adult rat ovary after lactational exposure to coumestrol (COU), a potent phytoestrogen. Lactating dams were gavaged at doses of 0.01, 0.1, 1, and 10 mg/kg COU during the lactation period and the reproductive effects of female pups were investigated in young adults. Rats were sacrificed at postnatal days (PND) 81-84. Ovarian weights were reduced significantly at 0.1 and 1.0 mg/kg COU. The reduction in the ovarian weight occurred in parallel with an increase in the apoptosis at PND 135-140. A marked dose-dependent increase in the expressions of active caspase-3 and -7 was observed in ovarian granulosa cells. Immunostaining for active caspase-3 and the TUNEL staining of apoptotic cells were also increased in ovaries exposed to COU in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest new sights into the effect of lactational exposure to COU on the female reproductive health.

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