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J Nutr. 2000 Sep;130(9):2333-42.

A cooperative interaction between soy protein and its isoflavone-enriched fraction lowers hepatic lipids in male obese Zucker rats and reduces blood platelet sensitivity in male Sprague-Dawley rats.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA.


Soy protein diets lower plasma cholesterol in hyperlipoproteinemic human subjects, as well as in animal models. We fed 7-wk-old male obese (fa/fa) and lean Zucker rats a modified AIN-76 diet (20 g protein/kg diet) containing casein (C), low isoflavone soy protein (38 mg isoflavones/kg diet; LI), or high isoflavone soy protein (578 mg isoflavones/kg diet; HI) for 70 d. In obese rats, plasma total cholesterol was 21 and 29% lower in the LI and HI groups, respectively, than in the C group (P: </= 0.004). Liver weight and liver triglyceride and cholesteryl ester concentrations were 27, 33 and 46% lower, respectively, in the LI group than in the C group (P: < 0.003). These liver measurements were 23, 24 and 57% lower, respectively, in the HI group than in the LI group (P: < 0.05). In a complementary study, 5-wk-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed the same C, LI and HI diets for 42 d. Thrombin-mediated platelet serotonin release in vitro was 13% lower in the HI group than in the C group (P: = 0.003). In a third study, 7-wk-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed either a modified AIN-76 control diet or a high fat casein-based atherogenic diet (140 g fat, 12 g cholesterol, and 2 g cholic acid/kg diet) with or without a soy isoflavones extract (983 mg isoflavones/kg diet) for 63 d. Addition of the isoflavones extract to the atherogenic diet lowered the liver triglyceride concentration by 33% relative to the atherogenic diet without isoflavones (P: = 0.0001). Our studies suggest that the hypocholesterolemic mechanism of dietary soy protein involves a cooperative interaction between the protein and isoflavone-enriched fraction that lowers hepatic lipid concentrations. We speculate that modulation of liver and plasma lipid homeostasis can also lower blood platelet sensitivity.

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