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Exp Eye Res. 2011 Feb;92(2):120-7. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2010.12.006. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

Genistein and genistein-containing dietary supplements accelerate the early stages of cataractogenesis in the male ICR/f rat.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, L108 Volker Hall, 1670 University Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


Cataract-related loss of vision affects large numbers of people in today's aging populations and presents a healthcare burden to many nations. The role of dietary supplements within the lens is largely unknown, although benefits from dietary anti-oxidants are expected. In this study, the effects of genistein as its aglycone, a genistein-containing dietary supplement (Novasoy(®)200), and a genistein-containing food (soy protein isolate, PRO-FAM 932) on the development of lens opacity were examined in the hereditary cataractous ICR/f rat. These studies were carried out in a background diet of semi-purified, isoflavone-free AIN-76A with casein as its protein source. The amount of genistein for the experimental diets was standardized to its concentration (as genistein aglycone as well as simple and complex β-glucoside conjugates) in the soy protein isolate supplement. Also tested was a high-dose genistein diet containing an 11-fold higher amount of genistein aglycone. The composition of each diet was verified by reverse-phase HPLC and blood plasma isoflavone concentrations were determined by LC-tandem mass spectrometry. The development of opacity in each lens was monitored and digitally recorded using slit-lamp examination over the course of the study. Each of the genistein-containing diets caused a significantly more rapid development of fibrous opacification in the anterior cortical region and development of apparent water clefts or vacuoles in the posterior subcapsular region than the AIN-76A control diet; however, the establishment of dense lens opacification was not significantly different between each of the diets. There was also no significant difference observed between the low-dose and high-dose genistein aglycone groups. These data suggest that genistein-containing dietary supplements accelerate the early stages of cataractogenesis in the male ICR/f rat, with no dose-dependent effects.

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