|A. Luzio, M. Figueiredo, M.M. Matos, A.M. Coimbra, A.R. Álvaro, S.M. Monteiro
Neurogenesis is a process that occurs throughout the life of a vertebrate. Among the different factors that may affect the natural occurrence of neurogenesis, obesity seems to decrease the proliferation capacity of progenitor neuronal cells. Conversely, the phytoestrogen genistein is known to attenuate some obesity effects beyond its neuroprotective action.
Aiming to improve the understanding of how obesity and genistein trigger an impact on the neural and retinal progenitor competence of adult zebrafish, fish were exposed to genistein (GEN – 2 μg L−1) alone or combined with two dietary groups (control and overfeed – OFD) for up to 9 weeks. Zebrafish were fed once per day with Artemia sp. in the control and GEN (2% of BW, control diet), and three times per day in the OFD and OFD + GEN groups (12% BW, overfeeding diet). To assess obesity induction, BMI, biometric parameters, and PPAR-γ protein were quantified. Afterwards, qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry were performed to determine the cell proliferation and the presence of stem cells through PCNA and Sox-2. Our findings proved that overfeeding adult zebrafish increased the general growth and induced the development of fatty liver. However, for OFD + GEN, this effect was assuaged through the anti-adipogenic effect of GEN. This finding suggests that phytoestrogens could be beneficial to reduce the negative effects of obesity. Moreover, OF induced negative effects on retinal and brain homeostasis, decreasing the proliferation capacity of progenitor neuronal cells. With regard to retinal progenitor competence, genistein seems to mitigate the negative impacts of obesity, whereas the effects of obesity on the brain were exacerbated by this phytoestrogen which negatively influenced the homeostasis of zebrafish neural progenitor competence. This study highlighted the fact that the effects of phytoestrogens in adult neural progenitor competence are complex and could exhibit dissimilar effects depending on the tissue.