Epidemiological studies suggest that soy consumption may provide a protection in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. It is under debate, however, whether the soy isoflavones or other compounds are the active principle. As apoptosis is a driving force in the process of atherosclerosis, we tested whether a soy extract or a combination of the two predominant isoflavones genistein and daidzein, in concentrations as found in the extract, exert similar or different effects on apoptosis in EA.hy 926 endothelial cells after exposure to the endothelial stressor homocysteine. Plasma membrane disintegration and nuclear fragmentation served as relevant apoptosis markers. To assess whether the extract and the genistein/daidzein mixture differently affect cellular target proteins changed in amount by homocysteine treatment, proteome analysis was performed by two-dimensional gel-electrophoresis and peptide mass fingerprinting of regulated protein spots. Homocysteine induced apoptosis in the cells, and both extract and genistein/daidzein inhibited apoptosis to a comparable extent. Whereas the extract prevented for 10 proteins the changes in expression levels as caused by homocysteine, the genistein/daidzein mixture reversed the homocysteine effects on the proteome for 13 proteins. The cytoskeletal protein matrin 3 and a U5 snRNP-specific 40-kDa protein were the only protein entities where both extract and genistein/daidzein reversed the homocysteine-induced changes in a common way. In conclusion, our studies provide evidence that an isoflavone containing soy extract and isolated isoflavones, despite similar effects on inhibition of homocysteine-induced apoptosis in endothelial cells, affect a quite different spectrum of cellular target proteins.
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