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J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Oct 11;107(3):354-60. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

Using vaginal cytology to assess the estrogenic activity of phytoestrogen-rich herb.

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Primate Research Unit, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Phyathai Road, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.


To assess the estrogenic activities of synthetic estrogen, synthetic phytoestrogen, Pueraria lobata and three distinct cultivars of Pueraria mirifica, a phytoestrogen-rich herb, a vaginal cytology assay in ovariectomized rats were used. Rats were ovariectomized and treated with DW, estradiol valerate (1 mg/kg BW), genistein (0.25-2.5 mg/kg BW), Pueraria lobata and Pueraria mirifica (10-1,000 mg/kg BW) for 14 days. The vaginal cytology was checked daily and the uteri were dissected and weighed at the end of treatment or post-treatment periods. The treatments of DW, genistein and Pueraria lobata did not influence the vaginal epithelium, but the injection of estradiol valerate induced a vaginal cornification from day-3 of treatment to day-14 of post-treatment period. The occurrence of vaginal cornification after treatment and the recovery after the cessation was dependent on dosages and cultivars of Pueraria mirifica. The increments of uterus weight in all rats agreed with the cornification of vaginal epithelium. Although both uterotropic and vaginal cytology assays can be used to assess the estrogenic activity of phytoestrogen-rich herb, however, using vaginal cytology assay has two advantages: (1) we do not need to kill the animals and (2) we can follow up the recovery after the cessation of treatment.

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