An isoflavonoid derived from soy products. It inhibits PROTEIN-TYROSINE KINASE and topoisomerase-II (DNA TOPOISOMERASES, TYPE II); activity and is used as an antineoplastic and antitumor agent. Experimentally, it has been shown to induce G2 PHASE arrest in human and murine cell lines and inhibits PROTEIN-TYROSINE KINASE. Genistein is a phenolic compound belonging to the isoflavonoid group. Isoflavonoids are found mainly in soybean. Genistein and daidzein (an other isoflavonoid) represent the major phytochemicals found in this plant. Health benefits (e.g. reduced risk for certain cancers and diseases of old age) associated to soya products consumption have been observed in East Asian populations and several epidemiological studies. This association has been linked to the action of isoflavonoids. With a chemical structure similar to the hormone 17-b-estradiol, soy isoflavones are able to interact with the estrogen receptor. They also possess numerous biological activities. (PMID: 15540649)


Genistein is one of several known isoflavones. Isoflavones compounds, such as genistein and daidzein, are found in a number of plants, but soybeans and soy products like tofu and textured vegetable protein are the primary food source. Genistein is a natural bioactive compound derived from legumes and has drawn because of its potentially beneficial effects on some human degenerative diseases. It has a weak estrogenic effect and is a well-known non-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor at pharmacological doses. Epidemiological studies show that genistein intake is inversely associated with the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Data suggests a protective role of genistein in cardiovascular events. However, the mechanisms of the genistein action on vascular protective effects are unclear. Past extensive studies exploring its hypolipidemic effect resulted in contradictory data. Genistein also is a relatively poor antioxidant. However, genistein protects against pro-inflammatory factor-induced vascular endothelial barrier dysfunction and inhibits leukocyte-endothelium interaction, thereby modulating vascular inflammation, a major event in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Genistein exerts a non-genomic action by targeting on important signaling molecules in vascular endothelial cells (ECs). Genistein rapidly activates endothelial nitric oxide synthase and production of nitric oxide in ECs. This genistein effect is novel since it is independent of its known effects, but mediated by the cyclic adenosine monophosphate/protein kinase A (cAMP/PKA) cascade. Genistein directly stimulates the plasma membrane-associated adenylate cyclases, leading to activation of the cAMP signaling pathway. In addition, genistein activates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, ligand-activated nuclear receptors important to normal vascular function. Furthermore, genistein reduces reactive oxygen species (ROS) by attenuating the expression of ROS-producing enzymes. These findings reveal the roles for genistein in the regulation of vascular function and provide a basis for further investigating its therapeutic potential for inflammatory-related vascular disease. (A3190).

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