Hormonal imprinting develops during the perinatal critical period, when the target hormone meets the yet unmatured receptor. As a consequence of imprinting the receptor accomplishes its maturation reaching the binding capacity characteristic to adults. In this period in the presence of foreign molecules similar to the target hormone faulty imprinting may occur with life-long consequences. Soy bean contains phytosteroids which can mimic estrogen effects. In the present experiments single genistein (20 mg) or combined genistein + benzpyrene (20 mg) treatments were done neonatally and the sexual behavior of male and female adult animals was studied. Genistein significantly increased the lordosis quotient of females, which was compensated by neonatal benzpyrene treatment. Genistein also enhanced the sexual activity of males, and this was significantly not reduced by parallel benzpyrene treatment. The results show that neonatal genistein exposure can imprint sexual activity for life and the presence of a second imprinter can modify genistein's behavioral effect.
Hormonal imprinting takes place perinatally, at the first encounter between the target hormone and its developing receptor. However, there is a secondary critical period of imprinting at puberty. In these periods molecules similar to the hormones (members of the same hormone family, antagonists, certain environmental pollutants, etc.) can cause faulty imprinting with lifelong consequences. In the present experiments 5+2 days of tamoxifen treatment (120mg/day) at adolescent age dramatically (from approx. 40% to 10%) reduced the sexual activity (Meyerson index and lordosis quotient) of female rats, soon after the finishment of the treatment and between four to six weeks after treatment. Similar results were observed in animals neonatally treated with allylestrenol and tamoxifen treated at puberty. Thymic glucocorticoid receptor and uterine estrogen receptor binding capacity were not influenced.