Send to

Choose Destination
Lab Anim. 2020 Feb 12:23677219898486. doi: 10.1177/0023677219898486. [Epub ahead of print]

Phytoestrogen-containing diets offer benefits for mouse embryology but lead to fewer offspring being produced.

Author information

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany.
Institute of Zoology, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.


One of the most commonly used protein sources in rodent diets is soy, which is naturally rich in phytoestrogens. Although phytoestrogens have shown potential health benefits in humans, they may also have the ability to disrupt reproduction. Consequently, there has been a tendency to try to exclude them from rodent diets. In the current study, we investigated whether phytoestrogen content in the mouse diet could affect reproduction in mice used as embryo donors. Donor mice (C57BL/6JOlaHsd) were maintained with three different diets: high phytoestrogen (ca. 400 mg/kg genistein), low phytoestrogen (ca. 10 mg/kg genistein) and standard breeding diet (ca. 120 mg/kg genistein). Mice fed a high phytoestrogen diet had a high yield of plugs, embryos, and injectable embryos, as well as producing good quality embryos. Results from donor mice fed a low phytoestrogen diet were consistently but only slightly inferior, whereas mice fed a standard diet performed the poorest. Interestingly, the largest number of born and weaned offspring were observed when recipient females received embryos from the standard diet group. Sperm yield and quality of stud males did not differ between the groups. We surmize that for experimental endpoints requiring fertilized embryos it may be more beneficial to feed mice a diet containing phytoestrogen, but if the goal is to produce transgenic mice, a diet high in phytoestrogen may be inadvisable. In conclusion, care should be taken when selecting a diet for experimental mouse colonies as phytoestrogen could influence the study outcome.


GM models; diet; genistein; phytoestrogen; sexual behaviour


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center