The Effects of a Phytoestrogen Diet on the Presentation of AR and ER-alpha in the Epididymis and Testis of Rats

Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Christopher Pearl

Second Advisor

Todd Barkman

Third Advisor

Jennifer Long


This study aims to test whether prolonged exposure of adult male Brown Norway rats to an increased amount (high level) of dietary phytoestrogens, after an initial exposure of a baseline amount (medium level) of dietary phytoestrogens, would cause differences in the presentation of androgen receptor (AR) and estrogen receptor - alpha (ERa) in the testes and epididymis. Two phytoestrogen (daidzein and genistein) diet groups were used in the study. The first was a medium (control) phytoestrogen level which contained 245 mg/kg of soy phytoestrogen. The second group was a high phytoestrogen level which contained 600 mg/kg of soy and alfalfa phytoestrogen. Paired testes and epididymal tissues were collected and fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde. For the investigation of the ERa and AR in the testes and epididymis an immunohistochemistry protocol was utilized. In future experiments, more research needs to be done to further examine the effects that dietary phytoestrogens has on the male reproductive tract. The research should focus on studying the effects of dietary phytoestrogen on the AR and ERa in the testes and epididymis to see if the downstream biological processes are stimulated by the exposure of exogenous estrogens. This present study is the first report of ERa and AR immunoexpression in the Brown Norway rat. Other strains of rats such as Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats have been reported in the literature but the results for Brown Norway rats have not been found. No matter what the effect, or lack thereof, from phytoestrogens this data is the first to show expression for these rats the epididymis in particular. And given that these rats are a common model, especially for aging, this information is important to know for future studies.


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