Dietary phytoestrogens have anti-inflammatory activity in a guinea pig model of asthma

Jean F Regal, Daniel G. Fraser, Charles E. Weeks, Norman A. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Phytoestrogens are a normal constituent of soy protein and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity in various in vitro and in vivo models. The present study was designed to determine if a diet enriched in the phytoestrogen isoflavones, genistin and daidzin, would alter the antigen- induced cellular infiltration, particularly eosinophilia, characteristic of a guinea pig model of asthma. Throughout the duration of the study, guinea pigs were maintained on a control diet (standard guinea pig chow) or the same diet enriched in isoflavones. The animals were placed on the diet 2 weeks prior to active sensitization with ovalbumin (OA). Three weeks after sensitization, animals were challenged with OA aerosol. The cellular infiltration into the lung and protein and red blood cells (RBC) in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAL) were determined 17 hr later. In animals maintained on the control diet, OA aerosol challenge resulted in the expected increase in eosinophils in both the BAL and the lung tissue, an increase in neutrophils in the BAL, and an increase in protein and the number of RBC in the BAL. In contrast, in animals maintained on the isoflavone diet, the OA-induced eosinophilia in the lung tissue was significantly attenuated. In addition, OA challenge caused a greater increase in BAL protein in animals maintained on the isoflavone diet compared with animals on the control diet. Our results indicated that a diet enriched in isoflavones results in reduced antigen-induced eosinophilia in the lung in the guinea pig model of asthma. However, this beneficial anti- inflammatory effect of dietary phytoestrogens is accompanied by a potentially detrimental increase in antigen-induced leakage of protein into the airspace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-378
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000

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