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Food Chem Toxicol. 2005 Oct;43(10):1461-82.

Subchronic and chronic safety studies with genistein in dogs.

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  • 1McClain Associates, 10 Powder Horn Terr, Randolph, NJ 07869, USA.


Genistein is a phytoestrogen that occurs naturally in the diet, especially in soy-based foods. There is widespread interest in phytoestrogens as chemopreventive agents for a variety of diseases and cancers based on epidemiologic evidence. Although soy and its constituents, such as genistein, have been consumed at high levels in several Asian populations without apparent adverse effects, concern has been raised about potential adverse effects due to estrogenic and other activities. The subchronic and chronic safety of genistein were evaluated in the beagle dog including a 4-week study and a 52-week safety study with a 13 week interim sacrifice and a 4 week recovery period. In both studies at doses of 50, 150 and 500 mg/kg/day, genistein was well tolerated. In the 4 week study, except for an increase in uterine weights in female dogs at 500 mg/kg/day, there were no other treatment related findings. In the 52-week study, the primary effects of genistein were observed on the reproductive tract, which included for male dogs: reduced size and/or weight of the testes, epididymus and prostate of 2/2 dogs after 13 weeks of treatment and in 1/4 dogs after 52 weeks of treatment at 500 mg/kg/day. The histological changes observed in the affected dogs at 500 mg/kg/day indicated atrophy of the testes and prostate gland and absent spermatozoa in the epididymus. At the mid-dose of 150 mg/kg/day, although there was a reduction to a lesser extent in testes weight after 13, but not 52 weeks, there were no histopathological changes. In female dogs, the reproductive tract effects included increased uterine weight at 500 mg/kg/day after 13 weeks of treatment, but not after 52 weeks of treatment. There was also a small decrease in ovarian weights at 150 and 500 mg/kg/day after 13 weeks and at 500 mg/kg/day after 52 weeks of treatment. There were no histopathological correlates to the changes in organ weights in female dogs. In the 4-week recovery group dogs, no changes were observed in dogs previously treated for 52 weeks with 500 mg/kg/day of genistein. It is concluded that the administration of genistein to dogs for a period of 4-52 weeks was well tolerated and did not result in systemic toxicity. Effects of genistein on the reproductive tract at very high doses were functional in nature and are of a type that would be expected in view of the relatively weak estrogenic activity of genistein and were considered not adverse effects. In the 4-week study, the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) for genistein was considered to be >500 mg/kg/day and the no observed effect level (NOEL) was considered to be 150 mg/kg/day. For the 52-week study, the NOAEL is considered to be >500 mg/kg/day and the NOEL is considered to be 50 mg/kg/day.

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