The Physiological, Cognitive and Behavioral Effects of Synthetic Estrogen on Adolescent Male Research Rats

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CONFERENCE: Posters-at-the-Capitol

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Long, Paige; Yeager, Hannah
conference paper description
The purpose of this experiment was to model the effects of hormone therapy that a transgender woman (male to female) would undergo, as well as to monitor the cognitive, behavioral, physiological, and physical effects demonstrated by the research rats. In an effort to further research concerning the health and wellbeing of transgender individuals, we utilized six research rats and a synthetic estrogen solution which was used to represent hormone replacement therapy. To accurately represent the focus group of our research, transgender human females, we utilized six research rats, three controls and three test subjects, and housed each separately. Initially, one capsule of synthetic estrogen was ground up with a mortar and pestle and diluted with 500 mL of water prior to being put into the rats' water bottles. In the experiment, synthetic estrogen was dispensed into the rats’ water bottles daily after the aforementioned procedure, in order to ensure that each rat in its separate cage was given a constant amount of 32 mL of the estrogen solution and 368 mL of water. Each day, heart rate and weight were monitored of both the experiment and control group, and a weekly urinalysis was conducted as a more invasive procedure to determine the presence of particular substances in the urine, and to ascertain if the aforesaid levels were abnormal. Furthermore, the rats in both the experiment and control groups were trained in a maze prior to the distribution of the synthetic estrogen solution in order to test cognitive behavior. Eventually, the rats became accustomed to the maze and were timed to test cognitive behavior and potential stress. Furthermore, the rats were monitored both nocturnally and diurnally with a Guerilla night vision camera, allowing them to be photographed and observed closely. This also allowed us to view the rats' behavior when not in contact with humans. Concerning the results, both rats gained weight at a relatively similar rate; the average weight for each rat began near 190g and ended at approximately 290-310g after approximately a month. Additionally, heart rate fluctuated in both groups; however, it may be of importance to note that the control group, rats 1-3, possessed the lowest average heart rate, as well as the highest average heart rate—459 bpm. Significantly, rats 4-6, the experiment group, produced urine samples with significantly higher quantities of protein and leukocytes. Maze times for rats 4-6 gradually became faster as time progressed, ending at an average of 1:16 sec; this time was significantly faster than that of the controls, which averaged 3:59 sec on their final maze time. Moreover, dissection of the subjects revealed no observable differences concerning the weight of the heart, kidneys, testes, and adipose tissue of the abdominal cavity—all areas of the body that have previously been noted as affected by hormone-therapy. In conclusion, it has become evident that the synthetic estrogen solution had no significant impact on weight and heart rate; however, it is likely that the solution was responsible for the excess of proteins and leukocytes found in the urine, resulted in the inactive behavior of rats 4-6, and may have actually improved the rats' cognition.