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BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 May 14;13:103. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-103.

Protective effect of genistein on radiation-induced intestinal injury in tumor bearing mice.



Radiation therapy is the most widely used treatment for cancer, but it causes the side effect of mucositis due to intestinal damage. We examined the protective effect of genistein in tumor-bearing mice after abdominal irradiation by evaluation of apoptosis and intestinal morphological changes.


Mouse colon cancer CT26 cells were subcutaneously injected at the flank of BALB/c mice to generate tumors. The tumor-bearing mice were treated with abdominal radiation at 5 and 10 Gy, and with genistein at 200 mg/kg body weight per day for 1 d before radiation. The changes in intestinal histology were evaluated 12 h and 3.5 d after irradiation. To assess the effect of the combination treatment on the cancer growth, the tumor volume was determined at sacrifice before tumor overgrowth occurred.


Genistein significantly decreased the number of apoptotic nuclei compared with that in the irradiation group 12 h after 5 Gy irradiation. Evaluation of histological changes showed that genistein ameliorated intestinal morphological changes such as decreased crypt survival, villus shortening, and increased length of the basal lamina 3.5 d after 10 Gy irradiation. Moreover, the genistein-treated group exhibited more Ki-67-positive proliferating cells in the jejunum than the irradiated control group, and crypt depths were greater in the genistein-treated group than in the irradiated control group. The mean weight of the CT26 tumors was reduced in the group treated with genistein and radiation compared with the control group.


Genistein had a protective effect on intestinal damage induced by irradiation and delayed tumor growth. These results suggest that genistein is a useful candidate for preventing radiotherapy-induced intestinal damage in cancer patients.

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