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Cancer Lett. 1999 Jul 19;142(1):111-9.

The effects of phytoestrogens on human pancreatic tumor cells in vitro.

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Division of Molecular Epidemiology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA.


Diet has been implicated as a possible link to the etiology, promotion and/or progression of many diseases, including cancer. Recently, interest has been focused on the cancer-protective role of several of the hormone-like diphenolic phytoestrogens, lignans, and isoflavonoids. This study examined the chemoprotective effects of genistein, biochanin A, equol, and coumestrol on human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells in vitro. Two human adenocarcinoma cell lines, HPAF-11 from a male and Su 86.86 from a female, were used. HPAF-11 cells were exposed for 24 h to these agents at concentrations of 1 and 10 microM. Su 86.86 cells were exposed for 24 h at a concentration of 1 microM. Coumestrol and equol at higher concentrations were toxic to the Su 86.86 cells. These agents displayed marked differences between cell lines in inhibition of growth. Equol and coumestrol inhibited the growth of the female pancreatic tumor cells by 95%; however, these agents stimulated the growth of pancreatic tumor cells from the male. Genistein also stimulated growth in the male pancreatic tumor cells, but had little effect on pancreatic tumor cells from the female. Biochanin A inhibited growth of both male and female tumor cells, but to a lesser extent than other agents. This study also indicated a difference in K-ras expression in pancreatic tumors cells treated with these agents. Equol and coumestrol decreased K-ras expression in the female tumor cell line. Genistein increased expression of K-ras in both male and female pancreatic tumor cells. Genistein also increased expressions of the multidrug resistant (mdr-1) gene in the male tumor-cell line, while coumestrol and biochanin A decreased expression. Equol had no effect on mdr-1 expression. Whether the chemoprotective potential of equol and coumestrol against pancreatic cancer is greater in females than males is being further studied.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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