Protective effects of prepubertal genistein exposure on mammary tumorigenesis are dependent on BRCA1 expression

Sonia De Assis, Anni Warri, Carlos Benitez, William Helferich, Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study investigated whether prepubertal dietary exposure to genistein reduces mammary tumorigenesis by upregulating Brca1 expression in mice. Heterozygous Brca1 +/- mice and their wild-type (WT) littermates were fed control AIN93G diet or 500 ppm genistein-supplemented AIN93G diet from postnatal day (PND) 15 to PND30 and then switched to AIN93G diet. Prepubertal dietary exposure to genistein reduced 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA)-induced mammary incidence (P = 0.029) and aggressiveness of the tumors (P < 0.001) in the WT mice and upregulated the expression of Brca1 in their mammary glands (P = 0.04). In contrast, prepubertal genistein diet neither significantly reduced mammary tumorigenesis or tumor aggressivity nor increased Brca1 mRNA expression in the Brca1 +/- mice. These results may be related to the opposing effects of prepubertal genistein diet on the expression of Rankl and CK5/CK18 ratio (marker of luminal epithelial cell differentiation) in the mammary gland and estrogen receptor (ER-α) and progesterone receptor (PgR) protein levels in the mammary tumor: these all were reduced in the WT mice or increased in Brca1 +/- mice. Both the WT and Brca1 +/- mice exhibited reduced levels of amphiregulin, CK5, and CK18, delayed ductal elongation and a reduction in terminal end bud number in the normal mammary gland, and reduced HER-2 protein levels in the mammary tumors; however, these effects were not sufficient to significantly reduce mammary tumorigenesis in Brca1 +/- mice. Our results show that upregulation of Brca1 may be required for prepubertal dietary genistein exposure to reduce later mammary tumorigenesis, perhaps because in the absence of this upregulation, mice do not exhibit genistein-induced downregulation of ER-α, PgR, and Rankl.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1436-1448
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


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