Genistein owers blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Genistein, a soy phytoestrogen, upregulates the expression of human endothelial nitric oxide synthase and lowers blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats.
J Nutr. 2008 Feb;138(2):297-304. PMID: 18203895
Genistein, a soy phytoestrogen, may improve vascular function, but the mechanism of this effect is unclear. Endothelial-derived nitric oxide (NO) is a key regulator of vascular tone and atherogenesis. Previous studies have established that estrogen can act directly on vascular endothelial cells (EC) to enhance NO synthesis through genomic stimulation of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) expression. However, it is unknown whether genistein has a similar effect. We therefore investigated whether genistein directly regulates NO synthesis in primary human aortic EC (HAEC) and human umbilical vein EC (HUVEC). Genistein, at physiologically achievable concentrations in individuals consuming soy products, enhanced the expression of eNOS and subsequently elevated NO synthesis in both HAEC and HUVEC, with 1-10 micromol/L genistein inducing the maximal effects. However, the effects of genistein on eNOS and NO were not mediated by activation of estrogen signaling or inhibition of tyrosine kinases, 2 known biological actions of genistein. Genistein (1-10 micromol/L) increased eNOS gene expression (1.8- to 2.6-fold of control) and significantly increased eNOS promoter activity of the human eNOS gene in HAEC and HUVEC, suggesting that genistein activates eNOS transcription. Dietary supplementation of genistein to spontaneously hypertensive rats restored aortic eNOS levels, improved aortic wall thickness, and alleviated hypertension, confirming the biological relevance of the in vitro findings. Our data suggest that genistein has direct genomic effects on the vascular wall that are unrelated to its known actions, leading to increased eNOS expression and NO synthesis, thereby improving hypertension.