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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 Feb;84(2-3):259-68.

Comparison of hormonal activity (estrogen, androgen and progestin) of standardized plant extracts for large scale use in hormone replacement therapy.

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Institute of Applied Microbiology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, 1190 Vienna, Austria.


Extracts from red clover (Trifolium pratense), soybean (Glycine max.) and black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) are frequently used as alternative compounds for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat menopausal disorders. Fifteen commercially available products made either from red clover, soybean or black cohosh were tested in in vitro assays in this study. The main polycyclic phenolic compounds of soy and red clover products were biochanin A, genistein, daidzein, formononetin, and glycitein. In red clover products glycitein was not abundant. All the compounds showed clear estrogenic activity through estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) and estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta) and affinity to progesterone receptor (PR) and androgen receptor (AR), whereas the compounds from black cohosh did not. This was corroborated by synthetic isoflavones such as biochanin A, daidzein, genistein and formononetin. They exerted affinity to PR and AR in the range of 0.39-110 mM. Statistical analysis applying principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that all red clover and soy products are grouped in different clusters. Red clover products showed a higher affinity to AR and PR than soy products, which is explained by the higher amount of isoflavones present. In vitro assays and chemical analysis showed that theoretical estrogenic activity expressed as equivalent E2 concentration is in the same range as recommended for synthetic estrogens. Broader spectrum of action and hypothesized lower side effects by action through ERbeta make them suitable for alternative hormone replacement therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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