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Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2005 Oct 26;3:58.

Influences of dietary soy isoflavones on metabolism but not nociception and stress hormone responses in ovariectomized female rats.

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Physiology and Developmental Biology Department, Neuroscience Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602, USA.



Isoflavones, the most abundant phytoestrogens in soy foods, are structurally similar to 17beta-estradiol. Few studies have examined the nociception and stress hormone responses after consumption of soy isoflavones.


In this study, ovariectomized (OVX) female Long-Evans rats were fed either an isoflavone-rich diet (Phyto-600) or an isoflavone-free diet (Phyto-free). We examined the effects of soy isoflavones on metabolism by measuring body weights, food/water intake, adipose tissue weights as well as serum leptin levels. Also, circulating isoflavone levels were quantified. During chemically induced estrous, nociceptive thresholds were recorded. Then, the animals were subjected to a stressor and stress hormone levels were quantified.


Body weights were significantly lower in Phyto-600 fed rats compared to Phyto-free values within one week and during long-term consumption of soy isoflavones. Correspondingly, Phyto-600 fed animals displayed significantly less adipose deposition and lower serum leptin levels than Phyto-free values. However, rats on the Phyto-600 diet displayed greater food/water intake compared to Phyto-free levels. No changes in thermal pain threshold or stress hormone levels (ACTH and corticosterone) were observed after activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress axis.


In summary, these data show that consumption of soy isoflavones 1) increases metabolism, demonstrated by significantly decreased body weights, adipose tissue deposition and leptin levels, but 2) does not alter nociception or stress hormone responses, as indexed by thermal pain threshold, serum corticosterone and ACTH levels in chemically-induced estrous OVX rats.

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