Estrogenic plant extracts reverse weight gain and fat accumulation without causing mammary gland or uterine proliferation

Elise F. Saunier, Omar I. Vivar, Andrea Rubenstein, Xiaoyue Zhao, Moshe Olshansky, Scott Baggett, Richard E. Staub, Mary Tagliaferri, Isaac Cohen, Terence P. Speed, John D. Baxter, Dale C. Leitman

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Abstract

Long-term estrogen deficiency increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women. Menopausal hormone therapy containing estrogens might prevent these conditions, but its prolonged use increases the risk of breast cancer, as wells as endometrial cancer if used without progestins. Animal studies indicate that beneficial effects of estrogens in adipose tissue and adverse effects on mammary gland and uterus are mediated by estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). One strategy to improve the safety of estrogens to prevent/treat obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is to develop estrogens that act as agonists in adipose tissue, but not in mammary gland and uterus. We considered plant extracts, which have been the source of many pharmaceuticals, as a source of tissue selective estrogens. Extracts from two plants, Glycyrrhiza uralensis (RG) and Pueraria montana var. lobata (RP) bound to ERα, activated ERα responsive reporters, and reversed weight gain and fat accumulation comparable to estradiol in ovariectomized obese mice maintained on a high fat diet. Unlike estradiol, RG and RP did not induce proliferative effects on mammary gland and uterus. Gene expression profiling demonstrated that RG and RP induced estradiol-like regulation of genes in abdominal fat, but not in mammary gland and uterus. The compounds in extracts from RG and RP might constitute a new class of tissue selective estrogens to reverse weight gain, fat accumulation and metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28333
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Cite this

Saunier, E. F., Vivar, O. I., Rubenstein, A., Zhao, X., Olshansky, M., Baggett, S., Staub, R. E., Tagliaferri, M., Cohen, I., Speed, T. P., Baxter, J. D., & Leitman, D. C. (2011). Estrogenic plant extracts reverse weight gain and fat accumulation without causing mammary gland or uterine proliferation. PLoS ONE, 6(12), [e28333]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028333