Dietary isoflavones during pregnancy and lactation provide cardioprotection to offspring rats in adulthood.
Clin Radiol. 2003 Apr;58(4):301-5. PMID: 15778278
In adult rats, elongation of cardiac myocytes (CMs) correlates with dilatation (and sometimes dysfunction) of cardiac ventricles. Although sex steroids may constitute one possible factor that affects the dimensions of CMs, studies on their effects in rodents is complicated by the fact that most commercial soy-based diets also contain abundant phytoestrogens. We report that feeding Wistar-Kyoto rat dams during gestation and lactation with a phytoestrogen-rich soy-based diet caused the CMs of their adult offspring to be shorter than in counterparts originating from mothers fed with a phytoestrogen-free casein-based diet. The soy-based diet had no such effects when given to rats after 6 wk of age, and its effects were replicated when supplementing the maternal casein-based diet with the isoflavones daidzein and genistein (the most abundant phytoestrogens in soy-based diets). In contrast to rats whose mothers had been fed with a soy-based diet, the hearts of adult rats raised with a casein-based diet only featured dilated eccentric hypertrophy and progressed toward congestive heart failure when further challenged. Thus the presence of isoflavones in the maternal diet provides cardioprotection to the hearts of their offspring during adulthood.