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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008 May;325(2):536-43. doi: 10.1124/jpet.107.134882. Epub 2008 Feb 11.

Isoflavones promote mitochondrial biogenesis.

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Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, South Carolina College of Pharmacy, 280 Calhoun St., P.O. Box 250140, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Mitochondrial damage is often both the cause and outcome of cell injury resulting from a variety of toxic insults, hypoxia, or trauma. Increasing mitochondrial biogenesis after renal proximal tubular cell (RPTC) injury accelerated the recovery of mitochondrial and cellular functions (Biochem Biophys Res Commun 355:734-739, 2007). However, few pharmacological agents are known to increase mitochondrial biogenesis. We report that daidzein, genistein, biochanin A, formononetin, 3-(2',4'-dichlorophenyl)-7-hydroxy-4H-chromen-4-one (DCHC), 7-hydroxy-4H-chromen-4-one (7-C), 4'7-dimethoxyisoflavone (4',7-D), and 5,7,4'-trimethoxyisoflavone (5,7,4'-T) increased peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator (PGC)-1alpha expression and resulted in mitochondrial biogenesis as indicated by increased expression of ATP synthase beta and ND6, and 1.5-fold increases in respiration and ATP in RPTC. Inhibition of estrogen receptors with ICI182780 (fulvestrant) had no effect on daidzein-induced mitochondrial biogenesis. The isoflavone derivatives showed differential effects on the activation and expression of sirtuin (SIRT)1, a deacetylase and activator of PGC-1alpha. Daidzein and formononetin induced the expression of SIRT1 in RPTC and the activation of recombinant SIRT1, whereas DCHC and 7-C only induced the activation of recombinant SIRT1. In contrast, genistein, biochanin A, 4',7-D, and 5,7,4'-T only increased SIRT1 expression in RPTC. We have identified a series of substituted isoflavones that produce mitochondrial biogenesis through PGC1alpha and increased SIRT1 activity and/or expression, independently of the estrogen receptor. Furthermore, different structural components are responsible for the activities of isoflavones: the hydroxyl group at position 7 is required SIRT1 activation, a hydroxyl group at position 5 blocks SIRT1 activation, and the loss of the phenyl ring at position 3 or the 4'-hydroxy or -methoxy substituent blocks increased SIRT1 expression.

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