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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 May 19;258(3):685-8.

Genistein is neuroprotective in murine models of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and stroke.

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Department of Cardiovascular Biology, Department of Molecular Epidemiology, Hughes Institute, 2665 Long Lake Road, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55113, USA.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), whether sporadic or familial (FALS), is a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disorder involving the motor neurons of the cortex, brain stem, and spinal cord. In some studies, the male/female ratio of ALS patients was as high as 2 to 1. In FALS mice, disease onset and mortality were earlier among males than among females. This sexual dimorphism was due to estrogen, as treatment with genistein, a phytoestrogen, eliminated the observed sexual dimorphism in FALS mice. Genistein treatment also protected against oxygen singlet-induced cerebral damage in vivo. However, sexual dimorphism was not observed in this model of stroke; and genistein was equally effective in males and females. These data suggest that genistein has both estrogen-dependent and estrogen-independent neuroprotective activities and it should be investigated as a prophylactic agent against pathologic conditions such as ALS and stroke.

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