Understanding the Cardiovascular Actions of Soy Isoflavones: Potential Novel Targets for Antihypertensive Drug Development
Interest in and use of “natural” remedies has grown exponentially in recent years. Compounds that have attracted considerable attention are the isoflavones, particular those found in soy. This review will provide a critical evaluation of our current understanding of the effects, mechanisms of action, and potential clinical applications of soy isoflavones in hypertension. Current data indicate that soy isoflavones, such as genistein and daidzein and equol, relax vascular smooth muscle both in vitro and in vivo via a combination of mechanisms including potentiation of endothelial-dependent and endothelial-independent vasodilator systems and inhibition of constrictor mechanisms. These effects involve both classical genomic as well non genomic actions. Isoflavone actions are mediated in part via interactions with estrogen receptors where soy isoflavones induce unique receptor conformations and exert tissue dependent effects similar to the selective estrogen receptor modulators. Signaling pathways such as ERK1/2, PI3-Kinase/Akt and cAMP contribute to isoflavone isoflavone activation of eNOS in the vasculature as well. Isoflavones also target the kidney to increase renal blood flow and sodium excretion. Finally, soy isoflavones interact with humoral systems such as the renin angiotensin. Data from animal studies show consistently that the aggregate effect of these actions is attenuation of hypertension. In contrast, studies in humans remain controversial. Recent data also suggest that analogues of isoflavones may possess unique vascular actions. Thus significant opportunity remains for study of the effects and mechanisms of action of soy isoflavones on hypertension in both animals and humans.
Keywords: Inflammatory Cardiomyopathy, Autoimmune Myocarditis Model, Cardiac inflammation, cytokines, heart disease, myocardial tissues, Soy isoflavones, vasoconstriction, vasodilation, hypertension
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