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Nutr Res Pract. 2014 Dec;8(6):618-24. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2014.8.6.618. Epub 2014 Aug 30.

Antioxidant action of soy isoflavones on oxidative stress and antioxidant enzyme activities in exercised rats.

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Department of Food and Nutrition, College of Natural Science and Human Ecology, Dong-eui University, 176 Eomgwangno, Busanjin-gu, Busan 614-714, Korea.
Department of Food and Nutrition, College of Natural Science, Hoseo University, Chungnam 336-795, Korea.



Isoflavones are widely believed to be beneficial to human health, in relation to their antioxidant potentials. Exercise can cause an imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidants. This study was conducted in order to investigate the ability of isoflavones in amelioration of oxidative stress induced by exercise.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to one of four groups: isoflavone-free with no exercise (CON-sd), isoflavone-free with exercise (CON-ex), isoflavone-supplemented with no exercise (ISF-sd), and isoflavone-supplemented with exercise (ISF-ex). Animals exercised on the treadmill for 30 minutes per day, five days per week. TBARS as a marker of oxidative stress and antioxidant enzyme activity, including SOD, GSH-px, and catalase were determined in liver tissue. Serum lipid profile was also examined.


A significant effect of isoflavone alone was observed on abdominal fat pad mass. ISF-ex had significantly less abdominal fat pad than CON-ex. Both exercise and isoflavone treatment had significant effects on lowering plasma triglyceride (TG), thus, the ISF-ex group had a significantly lower TG level than the CON-sd group, by 30.9%. However, no differences were observed in plasma cholesterol, HDL-C, and cholesterol/HDL-C ratio. Exercise, isoflavone, and exercise-isoflavone interaction effects were significant on thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) (P = 0.001, 0.002, and 0.005, respectively). The CON-ex group showed a higher TBARS level than the other three groups. By contrast, in the ISF-ex group, TBARS was restored to the level of the ISF-sd or CON-sd group. Isoflavone had a significant effect on superoxide dismutase (SOD) (P = 0.022) and catalase activities (P = 0.049). Significantly higher SOD and catalase activities were observed in ISF-ex than CON-ex. SOD and catalase activities showed an inverse pattern of TBARS. Taken together, isoflavones increased the activities of SOD and catalase with concomitant decreases in TBARS, indicative of decreased oxidative stress.


Isoflavone supplementation enhances antioxidant action with attenuation of exercise-induced oxidative stress, as measured by decreases in TBARS, and inhibits body fat accumulation and plasma TG increase. Antioxidative effects ascribed to isoflavones may be partially exerted via enhancement of antioxidant enzyme activities.


Isoflavones; TBARS; antioxidant enzymes; exercise; oxidative stress

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