Coumestrol and its metabolite in mares' plasma after ingestion of phytoestrogen-rich plants: Potent endocrine disruptors inducing infertility
G. Ferreira-Dias , M. Botelho , Agata Zagrajczuk , M. R. Rebordao , A. M. Galvao , P. Pinto Bravo , K. Piotrowska-Tomala , A. Z. Szóstek , W. Wiczkowski , M. Piskula , M. J. Fradinho , D. J. Skarzyński
AbstractPhytoestrogens exist in plants that are present in forages fed to horses. They may compete with 17-β estradiol and influence the estrous cycle. Therefore, the objective was to determine whether coumestrol from clover-mixed pastures is present in mare's plasma after their ingestion (experiment I), and when this phytoestrogen was present in mare's plasma after ingestion (experiment II). The effect of a long-term ingestion of phytoestrogens on estrous cycle disruption was assessed (experiment III; clinical case). Experiment I was carried out in nonpregnant anestrous and cyclic Lusitano mares (n = 14) kept on clover and grass-mixed pastures, and supplemented with concentrate and hay or cereal straw. Blood and feedstuff were obtained from November to March. In experiment II, stabled cyclic Lusitano mares (n = 6) were fed for 14 days with increasing amounts of alfalfa pellets (250 g to 1 kg/day). Sequential blood samples were obtained for 8 hours after feed intake on Day 0 (control) and on Days 13 and 14 (1 kg/day alfalfa pellets). Experiment III mares were fed with a mixture of alfalfa and clover haylage for 5 months (group 1; n = 4) or for 9 months (group 2; n = 12). Estrous cycle was determined on the basis of plasma estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4), and ultrasound (experiment III). Concentrations of phytoestrogen coumestrol and its metabolite methoxycoumestrol were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. Phytoestrogens decreased in pasture from November until March (P < 0.01) (experiment I), but were always detected in mares' plasma. In experiment II, plasma-conjugated forms of coumestrol and methoxycoumestrol were higher on Days 13 and 14 than in control (P < 0.05). The highest concentrations of conjugated form of coumestrol were at 1.5 and 4 hours (P < 0.001), whereas its free forms peaked at 1 and at 3.5 hours after ingestion (P < 0.05). Methoxycoumestrol-conjugated form concentration was the highest at 1.5 and 5 hours (P < 0.001), whereas its free form peaked at 1 hour (P < 0.05) and at 1.5 hours (P < 0.001). Long-term intake of coumestrol caused lack of ovulation, uterine edema, and uterine fluid accumulation (experiment III). Coumestrol and methoxycoumestrol in both forms were higher in group 2 (while still ingesting haylage) than in group 1, after haylage withdrawal (P < 0.001). These data show that in the mare, coumestrol and its metabolite increase in blood after ingestion of estrogenic plants and can influence reproduction in mares as potent endocrine disruptors.
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