Genistein reduced the neural apoptosis in the brain of ovariectomised rats by modulating mitochondrial oxidative stress.
The present study was undertaken to investigate the antioxidant effect of chronic ingestion of genistein (Gen) against neural death in the brain of ovariectomised (Ovx) rats. The rats were randomly divided into five groups, i.e. sham-operated (sham), Ovx-only, Ovx with 17β-oestradiol, Ovx with low (15 mg/kg) and high (30 mg/kg) doses of Gen (Gen-L and Gen-H), and were orally administered daily with drugs or vehicle for 6 weeks. The learning and memory abilities were measured by Morris water maze test. Oxidative damages in the brain were evaluated by the level of superoxide dismutase (SOD), malondialdehyde (MDA) and monoamine oxidase (MAO) activities. Neural apoptosis was shown by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) staining and caspase-3 activity. In the visual learning and memory test, there were no significant differences among the population means of the five groups. While in the probe trial test, the Gen-L group instead of the Gen-H group exhibited reduced escape latency and increased memory frequency than the Ovx group. Although both doses of Gen could reduce acetylcholinesterase activity, only a low dose of Gen could diminish MDA activity significantly in frontal cortex and enhance SOD content in the hippocampus. In contrast, MAO content was decreased in the cortex by either dose of Gen, while in the hippocampus, only a high dose of Gen appeared to be effective. Interestingly, Gen at both the doses could attenuate the increased number of TUNEL-positive neurons and caspase-3 activity in Ovx rats. These results suggest that Gen confers protection against Ovx-induced neurodegeneration by attenuating oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation and the mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathway in a region- and dose-dependent manner.