Isoflavones and their metabolites influence the milk component synthesis ability of mammary epithelial cells through prolactin/STAT5 signaling

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Abstract

Scope:

Isoflavones are a class of polyphonic compounds present in legumes and are called phytoestrogens because of their estrogen-like activity. Estrogen influences the behavior of mammary epithelial cells (MECs) during pregnancy and lactation. In this study, we investigated the direct influences of isoflavones and their metabolites in milk production ability of MECs.

Methods and results:

Mouse MECs were cultured with prolactin and dexamethasone (glucocorticoid analog) to induce milk production ability. Subsequently, lactating MECs were treated with each isoflavone. Coumestrol, biochanin A, genistein, and formononetin decreased the intracellular and secreted β-casein. On the other hand, p-ethylphenol, daidzein, and equol did not significantly influence β-casein production at any concentration. Coumestrol, biochanin A and genistein down-regulated the mRNA expression of whey acidic protein (WAP), lactoferrin and α-lactalbumin. In contrast, p-ethylphenol, daidzein and equol up-regulated β-casein and/or WAP with α-lactalbumin. Furthermore, coumestrol and genistein down-regulated the expression of prolactin receptor and signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) accompanied by a decrease in STAT5 phosphorylation.

Conclusion:

Isoflavones and their metabolites influence the milk production ability of MECs through different interactions with prolactin/STAT5 signaling. Simultaneous intake of multiple isoflavones by consumption of legumes may induce promotive or adverse effects on lactating MECs.

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