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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2001 Jan 22;171(1-2):151-62.

Phytoestrogens inhibit human 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 5.

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GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute for Experimental Genetics, Genome Analysis Center, Ingolstädter Landstrasse 1, 85764, Neuherberg, Germany.


The 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 5 (17beta-HSD 5) is involved in estrogen and androgen metabolism. In our study we tested the influence of environmental hormones, such as phytoestrogens (flavonoids, coumarins, coumestans), on reductive and oxidative 17beta-HSD activity of the human 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 5 (17beta-HSD 5). These dietary substances were shown to be potent inhibitors of aromatase, different 17beta-HSDs and seem to play an important role in delay of development of hormone dependent cancers. Our studies show that reductive and oxidative activity of the enzyme are inhibited by many dietary compounds, especially zearalenone, coumestrol, quercetin and biochanin A. Among the group of flavones inhibitor potency is growing with increasing number of hydroxylations. We suggest that these substances are bound to the hydrophilic cofactor-binding pocket of the enzyme. An interesting inhibition pattern is observed for 18beta-glycyrrhetinic acid, which has no influence on the oxidative but only on the reductive reaction. This indicates that this substrate binds to pH- and cofactor-depending sites at the active center of the enzyme.

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