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See 1 citation in Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2009:

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 15;237(3):288-97. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.03.022. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

Differential effect of pure isoflavones and soymilk on estrogen receptor activity in mice.

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Center of Excellence on Neurodegenerative Diseases and Department of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milan Via Balzaretti, 9 I-20133 Milan, Italy.



Because of the complexity of estrogen receptor (ER) physiological activity, the interaction of pure isoflavones or soy-based diets on ER needs to be clearly demonstrated.


To investigate the effects of the administration of isoflavones as a pure compound or as a component of diet on the ER transcriptional activity in adult mice.


Effects of acute (6 h) and chronic (21 days) oral administration of soy milk, pure genistein and a mix of genistein and daidzein was studied in living ERE-Luc mice. In this animal model, the synthesis of luciferase is under the state of ER transcriptional activity. Luciferase activity was measured in living mice by daily bioluminescence imaging sessions and in tissue extracts by enzymatic assay.


Acute, oral administration of genistein or soymilk caused a significant increase of ER activity in liver. In a 20 day long treatment, soymilk was more potent than genistein in liver and appeared to extend its influence on ER transcriptional activity in other tissues, such as the digestive tract. A mixture of pure genistein and daidzein at the same concentration as in soymilk failed to induce significant changes during acute and chronic studies suggesting an important, uncharacterized role of the soymilk matrix. Consistent with this observation, synergistic effects of the matrix plus isoflavones were observed in MCF-7 cells stably transfected with the ERE-luc construct.


This study underlines the limitations of the analysis of single food components in the evaluation of their effects on estrogen receptor activity and advocates the necessity to use complex organisms for the full comprehension of the effects of compounds altering the endocrine balance.

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