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Keywords:

  • Estrogen;
  • Genistein;
  • Isoflavones;
  • Mammary gland;
  • Proliferation

Abstract

Scope Exposure scenarios during different stages of development of an organism are discussed to trigger adverse and beneficial effects of isoflavones (ISO). The aim of this study was to investigate how in utero and postnatal ISO exposure modulates the estrogen sensitivity of the mammary gland and to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Methods and results Therefore, rats were exposed to either ISO-free (IDD), ISO-rich (IRD) or genistein-rich diet (GRD), up to young adulthood. Proliferative activity (PCNA expression) in the mammary gland at different ages and the estrogen sensitivity of the mammary gland to estradiol (E2) or genistein (GEN) in adult ovariectomized animals was determined and compared with different treatments. Treatment with E2 resulted in a significant lower proliferative and estrogenic response of the mammary gland in IRD and GRD compared with IDD. This correlates to a change in the gene expression pattern and a decrease in the ratio of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) beta (ERβ

Conclusions Our results provide evidence that in utero and postnatal exposure to a diet rich in ISO but also to GEN reduces the sensitivity of the mammary gland toward estrogens and support the hypothesis that in utero and postnatal ISO exposure reduces the risk to develop breast cancer.