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In Vivo. 2010 Jul-Aug;24(4):393-400.

Soy phytoestrogens modify DNA methylation of GSTP1, RASSF1A, EPH2 and BRCA1 promoter in prostate cancer cells.

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  • 1Département d'Oncogénétique, Centre Jean Perrin, 58 rue Montalembert, BP 392, 63011 Clermont-Ferrand cedex 01, France.



The aim of this study was to determine the effects of soy phytoestrogens on the methylation of promoter genes in prostate tumors. The incidence of prostate cancer in Asia is thirty percent lower than in Western countries. Since soy phytoestrogens represent a large portion of the Asian diet, evidence suggests their protective effect against prostate cancer.


In three human prostate cancer cell lines, methylation-specific-PCR was used to determine the effect of soy isoflavones (genistein and daidzein), compared to known demethylating agent 5-azacytidine as control in the promoter regions of glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1), Ras association domain family 1 (RASSF1A), ephrin B2 (EPHB2) and breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) genes. In parallel, immunohistochemistry was used to assess the effects of genistein, daidzein and 5-azacytidine treatment on the corresponding protein expression.


All studied promoters, with the exception of that for BRCA1, were strongly methylated without treatment. After treatment by phytoestrogens, demethylation of GSTP1 and EPHB2 promoter regions was observed and an increase in their protein expression was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry.


Epigenetic modifications of DNA, such as the promoter CpG island demethylation of tumor suppressor genes, might be related to the protective effect of soy on prostate cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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