In utero and postnatal exposure to isoflavones results in a reduced responsivity of the mammary gland towards estradiol

Tuesday, 03/01/2012  |   Herb or Compound  |  no comments

Isoflavones are a class of chemical compounds. Genistein and daidzein are two isoflavones found in soy beans. These and other isoflavones are actually in many different kinds of legumes (beans), grains and vegetables. The structure of the isoflavone molecule shares some critical similarities to estrogen, one of the hormones naturally produced in our own bodies (both male and female). Estrogen is, of course, produced in female ovaries and male testes, as well as in fat cells and certain brain cells. We also have special cells in our brains, reproductive organs , liver and fat cells that respond to estrogen, by virtue of the estrogen receptors in these cells. Abstract Scope: Exposure scenarios during different stages of development of an organism are discussed to trigger adverse and beneficial effects of isoflavones (ISO). The aim of this study was to investigate how in utero and postnatal ISO exposure modulates the estrogen sensitivity of the mammary gland and to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms. Methods and results: Therefore, rats were exposed to either ISO-free (IDD), ISO-rich (IRD) or genistein-rich diet (GRD), up to young adulthood. Proliferative activity (PCNA expression) in the mammary gland at different ages and the estrogen sensitivity of the mammary gland to estradiol (E2) or genistein (GEN) in adult ovariectomized animals was determined and compared with different treatments. Treatment with E2 resulted in a significant lower proliferative and estrogenic response of the mammary gland in IRD and GRD compared with IDD. This correlates to a change in the gene expression pattern and a decrease in the ratio of estrogen receptor alpha (ER?) beta (ER?). Conclusions: Our results provide evidence that in utero and postnatal exposure to a diet rich in ISO but also to GEN reduces the sensitivity of the mammary gland toward estrogens and support the hypothesis that in utero and postnatal ISO exposure reduces the risk to develop breast cancer. Source: Molzberger AF, Vollmer G, Hertrampf T, et al. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2011 DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201100371

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