Journal Article

Soy isoflavonoid effects on endogenous estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal female monkeys

Charles E. Wood, Thomas C. Register and J.Mark Cline

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 28, issue 4, pages 801-808
Published in print October 2006 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online April 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Soy isoflavonoid effects on endogenous estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal female monkeys

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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Endogenous estrogens are important determinants of breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. In this study we evaluated the effects of dietary soy isoflavonoids on endogenous estrogen metabolism in a postmenopausal primate model. Ovariectomized female cynomolgus monkeys were randomized to receive one of three diets for 36 months: (i) isoflavonoid-depleted soy protein isolate (SPI−) (n = 29); (ii) soy protein isolate with 129 mg isoflavonoids/1800 kcal diet (8.6 mg isoflavonoids/kg body weight (BW), expressed in aglycone units) (SPI+) (n = 29) or (iii) isoflavonoid-depleted soy protein isolate with conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) at a dose of 0.625 mg/1800 kcal diet (0.042 mg CEE/kg BW) (n = 30). Mean plasma isoflavonoid concentrations in the SPI+ group were 946.9 ± 135.9 nmol/l, and equol was the primary circulating isoflavonoid (549.7 ± 61.6 nmol/l). The SPI+ diet resulted in lower serum estrone (E1) after 29 (−26%, P = 0.03) and 34 months (−21%, P = 0.04) compared to the SPI− diet, while urinary 2-hydroxyestrone (P = 0.005) and the 2 to 16α-hydroxyestrone ratio (P < 0.0001) were markedly higher in the SPI+ group compared to SPI−. Isoflavonoid treatment did not significantly alter gene markers of estrogen metabolism or estrogen receptor agonist activity in breast tissue. Within the SPI+ group, higher concentrations of serum equol (but not daidzein or genistein) corresponded to significantly lower serum E1, mammary gland epithelial area and uterine weight (P < 0.01 for all). These findings suggest that long-term exposure to soy isoflavonoids, equol in particular, may facilitate endogenous estrogen clearance and catabolism to more benign 2-hydroxylated metabolites.

Journal Article.  6423 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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