The potential role of oestrogenic agents, antioxidants and intestinal glucose-uptake inhibitors in the treatment of diabetes is briefly reviewed. Reports in the literature suggest that oestrogen replacement therapy may favourably modulate glucose homeostasis. A soya phytochemical extract (SPE) containing the isoflavone phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein (mostly in their glycone forms as genistin and daidzin) was investigated as an antioxidant and modulator of intestinal glucose-transport. In the present study, SPE was found to protect against glucose-induced oxidation of human low density lipoproteins (LDL) in vitro. Equol (a gut bacterial metabolite of daidzein) was a more effective antioxidant than daidzein or genistein in this system and was of similar antioxidant potency to the dietary flavonols quercetin and kaempferol and to the endogenous antioxidant 17beta-oestradiol. SPE was found to be an inhibitor of glucose uptake into rabbit intestinal brush border membrane vesicles in vitro, though of weaker potency than the classical sodium dependent glucose transporter (SGLT) inhibitor, phlorizin. Thus SPE displays a range of properties which may be of benefit in diabetes, namely as an oestrogenic agent, an inhibitor of intestinal glucose-uptake and a preventive agent for glucose-induced lipid peroxidation.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.