Katherine Bell

Doctor of Philosophy, (Nutritional Science)
Study Completed: 2009
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
The role of dietary isoflavones in the reproductive system of domestic and non-domestic felid species.

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Ms Bell’s research focused on reproductive and liver function in cats exposed to plant compounds which are known to mimic sex steroid activity. The domestic cat was used as a model for the endangered cheetah. Studies were undertaken to determine and compare the absorption and disposition of these plant compounds in both cats and cheetahs. This occurred before further evaluation of their effect on reproductive cycles and tissues, as well as liver enzymes and structure were undertaken. Differences were found between treated and untreated cats in the number of spontaneous ovulation events, and expression of sex steroid receptors. The research has shown that these phytoestrogens are capable of altering ovulation and the expression of oestrogen and progesterone receptors in the cat. No changes were detected in liver enzymes or structure. The findings indicate that phytoestrogens may be associated with reproductive perturbations in domestic cats and possibly captive cheetahs.

Associate Professor David Thomas
Dr Lucy Waldron
Associate Professor Nick Cave
Dr Claudia Ugarte