The effect of neonatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol, coumestrol, and beta-sitosterol on pituitary responsiveness and sexually dimorphic nucleus volume in the castrated adult rat.
Register B., Bethel MA., Thompson N., Walmer D., Blohm P., Ayyash L., Hughes C.
The neonatal hormone environment influences the sexually differentiated patterns of development. Estrogens, derived from intracerebral aromatization, promote male pattern development of the central nervous system. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of neonatal exposure to environmental estrogens on luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion and development of the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the medial preoptic area (SDN-POA) in castrated adult rats. Neonatal rats of both sexes received injections of either corn oil, 0.1 microgram diethylstilbestrol (DES), 3 micrograms beta-sitosterol (B1), 30 micrograms beta-sitosterol (B2), 0.1 microgram coumestrol (C1), 1 microgram coumestrol (C2), or 10 micrograms coumestrol (C3) on Day 1-10 of life and were castrated on Day 21. Right heart catheters were placed on Day 42, and GnRH (50 ng/kg) was administered. Blood was sampled for LH at 0-, 5-, 10-, 15-, and 30-min intervals. All doses of beta-sitosterol and coumestrol elicited increased basal levels of LH in females. In males, B1, B2, C2, and C3 increased basal levels of LH. The GnRH-induced LH increase was prevented in females treated with diethylstilbestrol and 10 micrograms of coumestrol. Males in all treatment groups exhibited GnRH-induced LH surges. The animals were sacrificed by decapitation on Day 49. Volumes of the SDN-POA of the groups were compared. Treatment with the agents did not result in significantly increased SDN volume in females; nor was there a difference in SDN size among the male groups. These data show that exposure to environmental estrogens early in development alters both postpubertal pituitary response to GnRH and basal LH secretion in females and alters only basal LH secretion in males. No significant enlargement (i.e., masculinization) of the SDN-POA was exhibited.