Dose, timing, and duration of flaxseed exposure affect reproductive indices and sex hormone levels in rats.

Flaxseed ingestion produces large amounts of mammalian lignans. Since lignans have weak estrogenic/antiestrogenic properties, the objective of this study was to determine in rats whether exposure to 5% or 10% flaxseed affects sex hormone levels and reproductive indices when given at different developmental stages. Rats were exposed to either a basal diet (control), 5%, or 10% flaxseed diet starting at weaning on postnatal day (PND) 21 or continuously from gestation to PND 132 for lifetime exposure. Compared to the control, exposure to 5% or 10% flaxseed after weaning produced no marked reproductive effects, whereas lifetime flaxseed exposure caused significant changes that differed depending on the dose. In female rats, lifetime exposure to 5% flaxseed affected the reproductive tract as indicated by delayed puberty onset. In contrast, lifetime exposure to 10% flaxseed caused earlier puberty onset, higher relative ovarian weight, higher serum estradiol levels, and lengthened estrous cycles. In male rats, lifetime 10% flaxseed exposure raised serum testosterone and estradiol levels and produced higher relative sex organ weights and prostate cell proliferation. In contrast, lifetime exposure to 5% flaxseed reduced adult relative prostate weight and cell proliferation, suggesting potential protection against prostatic disease, although sex hormone levels were unaffected. In conclusion, flaxseed can potentially alter reproduction, depending on the dose and timing of exposure.
AuthorsJ C Tou, J Chen, L U Thompson
JournalJournal of toxicology and environmental health. Part A (J Toxicol Environ Health A) Vol. 56 Issue 8 Pg. 555-70 (Apr 23 1999) ISSN: 1528-7394 [Print] UNITED STATES
PMID10321385 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't)
Chemical References
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Estradiol (blood)
  • Estrus (drug effects)
  • Female
  • Flax
  • Male
  • Organ Size (drug effects)
  • Ovary (anatomy & histology, drug effects)
  • Pregnancy
  • Prostate (anatomy & histology, cytology, drug effects)
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reproduction (drug effects)
  • Seeds
  • Testosterone (blood)

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