Elevated cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women and beneficial actions of estrogen replacement in animal models have been related to protective effects of estrogens. However, randomized trials of hormone replacement therapy with synthetic estrogens in humans failed confirmation and phytoestrogens, natural plant hormones with agonistic properties for estrogen receptors, could represent potential alternatives. The aim of the present study is to characterize an animal model for alternative hormone replacement with genistein as a natural estrogenic compound. We performed a 2-DE/ESI-LC-MS approach in order to identify protein species varying with genistein receipt and sex in their relative abundance in the healthy murine heart (http://www.mpiib-berlin.mpg.de/2D-PAGE). Oral genistein treatment revealed a substantial effect on the relative abundance of both estrogen receptors. Several enzymes of the fatty acid metabolism and their transcriptional regulators varied differentially in male and in female animals, at the transcript and/or the protein species level. Increased levels of enzyme species involved in the oxidative phosphorylation and generation of ROS were accompanied by decreased amounts of antioxidants in male mice receiving genistein compared with control males, which have been previously associated with various pathological conditions. Exposure of female animals to genistein provoked an increased abundance of two species of LIM domain-binding protein and one species of desmin. These proteins have been associated with cardiac hypertrophy and our data warrant caution for the use of them as molecular markers, since the animals did not exhibit any histological signs of cardiac hypertrophy.
The authors thank Dr. Grote and Dr. Talsness (Charité–Universitätsmedizin, Berlin) for the help with gonadectomy procedures and Dr. Klausdeinken (LASvendi, Germany) for his continuous support and discussion on the use of genistein in animal diets. K. Schwab was financially supported in part by the Hypatia Programme for young female scientists, Berlin and The Charite Grant for promotion of young academics, Berlin.
The authors have declared no conflict of interest.