Isocoumarins as estrogen receptor beta selective ligands: Isomers of isoflavone phytoestrogens and their metabolites

Meri De Angelis, Fabio Stossi, Michael Waibel, Benita S. Katzenellenbogen, John A. Katzenellenbogen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a search for new ligands selective for the estrogen receptor beta (ERβ), we prepared a series of non-steroidal compounds having an isocoumarin core structure. An interesting feature of these derivatives is that they bear the same functionalities as the well-known ERβ -selective, isoflavone phytoestrogens daidzein and genistein, but in an isomeric arrangement. These compounds could be prepared efficiently by electrophilic cyclization of acetylenic ester precursors, followed by simple manipulations to introduce additional substituents. Through a reduction of some of the isocoumarins, we also obtained isomeric analogs of the isoflavone metabolites equol and dehydroequol. The compounds we prepared were evaluated in ER binding assays, and selected compounds were studied further in cell-based gene transcription assays. Several of the isocoumarins and their analogs are high-affinity ligands that show considerable selectivity for ERβ in terms of binding affinity, and strikingly high ERβ selectivity in terms of potency in gene transcription assays. Two of the best compounds, which combine high transcriptional potency with an ERβ selectivity greater than 1000, should prove to be excellent probes of ERβ function in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6529-6542
Number of pages14
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005


  • Equol
  • Estrogen receptor alpha
  • Estrogen receptor beta
  • Genistein
  • Isocoumarin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Isocoumarins as estrogen receptor beta selective ligands: Isomers of isoflavone phytoestrogens and their metabolites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this