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Endocrinology. 2012 Sep;153(9):4160-70. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1030. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Aggressive prostate cancer is prevented in ERαKO mice and stimulated in ERβKO TRAMP mice.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.


Previous evidence suggests soy genistein may be protective against prostate cancer, but whether this protection involves an estrogen receptor (ER)-dependent mechanism is unknown. To test the hypothesis that phytoestrogens may act through ERα or ERβ to play a protective role against prostate cancer, we bred transgenic mice lacking functional ERα or ERβ with transgenic adenocarcinoma of mouse prostate (TRAMP) mice. Dietary genistein reduced the incidence of cancer in ER wild-type (WT)/transgenic adenocarcinoma of mouse prostate mice but not in ERα knockout (KO) or ERβKO mice. Cancer incidence was 70% in ERWT mice fed the control diet compared with 47% in ERWT mice fed low-dose genistein (300 mg/kg) and 32% on the high-dose genistein (750 mg/kg). Surprisingly, genistein only affected the well differentiated carcinoma (WDC) incidence but had no effect on poorly differentiated carcinoma (PDC). No dietary effects have been observed in either of the ERKO animals. We observed a very strong genotypic influence on PDC incidence, a protective effect in ERαKO (only 5% developed PDC), compared with 19% in the ERWT, and an increase in the incidence of PDC in ERβKO mice to 41%. Interestingly, immunohistochemical analysis showed ERα expression changing from nonnuclear in WDC to nuclear in PDC, with little change in ERβ location or expression. In conclusion, genistein is able to inhibit WDC in the presence of both ERs, but the effect of estrogen signaling on PDC is dominant over any dietary treatment, suggesting that improved differential targeting of ERα vs. ERβ would result in prevention of advanced prostate cancer.

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