Development of puberty in female mice was examined in relationship with the ano-genital distance index (AGDI), phyto-oestrogen content of diet and exposure to males post weaning. Throughout gestation and post-natal development, females were exposed to a regular diet or a nutritionally similar diet deficient in phyto-oestrogens. After segregation at weaning on the basis of short or long AGDI, an indirect measure of
in uteroandrogen exposure, females were housed alone or underneath two outbred adult males for 2 weeks. Female urinary samples were collected non-invasively throughout this exposure, then assayed for oestradiol, progesterone and creatinine. Females were then killed and uterine and ovarian mass was determined. Urinary oestradiol was substantially reduced in females raised on the phyto-oestrogen-free diet. Oestradiol levels were more dynamic over days in urine of male-exposed females, especially among those on the regular diet. Urinary progesterone was not strongly influenced by diet. Progesterone was more dynamic in urine of male-exposed females, and was generally elevated compared with levels in isolated females, the size of this effect dependent on AGDI, diet and whether the measure was adjusted for creatinine. Urinary creatinine was elevated by the phyto-oestrogen-free diet and reduced by male exposure, tending to decline over days in females exposed to males. Male exposure increased uterine and ovarian mass and was influenced by AGDI in interaction with diet and male exposure.