Low-dose dietary genistein negates the therapeutic effect of tamoxifen in athymic nude mice

Mengyuan Du, Xujuan Yang, James A. Hartman, Paul S. Cooke, Daniel R. Doerge, Young H. Ju, William G. Helferich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined the effect of dietary genistein, a soy isoflavone, on breast cancer patients who take tamoxifen, an antiestrogen treatment, using a preclinical model. The interaction of various doses of genistein with tamoxifen on the growth of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer MCF-7 cells was investigated by subcutaneously injecting MCF-7 cells into the flank of ovariectomized athymic mice. Animals were randomized into eight experimental groups with 10-13 mice per group: control (C), estrogen (E) (0.08 mg E implant), tamoxifen (T) (3 mg T implant), estrogen + tamoxifen (E + T), tamoxifen + 500 p.p.m. genistein (T + G500), estrogen + tamoxifen + 250 p.p.m. genistein (E + T + G250), estrogen + tamoxifen + 500 p.p.m. genistein (E + T + G500) and estrogen + tamoxifen + 1000 p.p.m. genistein (E + T + G1000). Treatment of tamoxifen significantly reduced the estrogen-induced MCF-7 tumor prevalence and tumor size. This inhibitory effect of tamoxifen was significantly negated by the low doses of dietary genistein (250 and 500 p.p.m.), whereas the 1000 p.p.m. genistein did not have the same effect. Cells harvested from tamoxifen-treated tumors retained estrogen responsiveness of their progenitor MCF-7 cells, indicating that the abrogating effect of genistein on tamoxifen-treated tumor growth was not caused by a diminished tamoxifen response but directly by genistein. The low doses of dietary genistein abrogated the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen potentially by acting on the tumor cell proliferation/apoptosis ratio and the messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of cyclin D1 in addition to regulating the mRNA expression of progesterone receptor. Therefore, data from the current study suggest that caution is warranted regarding the consumption of dietary genistein by breast cancer patients while on tamoxifen therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-901
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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