Pueraria mirifica phytoestrogens improve dyslipidemia in postmenopausal women probably by activating estrogen receptor subtypes

Tohoku J Exp Med. 2008 Dec;216(4):341-51. doi: 10.1620/tjem.216.341.


Impaired lipid metabolism is an important health problem in postmenopausal women with insufficient estrogens, because dyslipidemia is a risk factor for development of atherosclerosis and the incidence of cardiovascular disease markedly increases after menopause. Pueraria mirifica (PM), a Thai herb, has been noticed as a source of phytoestrogens, estrogen-mimicking plant compounds. However, the clinical effects of PM on lipid metabolism and the underlying molecular mechanisms remain undetermined. Therefore, we examined the effects of PM on serum lipid parameters in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nineteen postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to receive oral administration of PM powder or placebo. After 2 months of treatment, the PM group showed a significant increase in serum concentrations of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and apolipoprotein (apo) A-1 (34% and 40%, respectively), and a significant decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and apo B (17% and 9%, respectively), compared with baseline measurements. Moreover, significant decreases were observed in the ratios of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (37%) and apo B to apo A-1 (35%). Next, we determined the effects of PM phytoestrogens on the activation of estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated transactivation by transient expression assays of a reporter gene in cultured cells. Among PM phytoestrogens, miroestrol and coumestrol enhanced both ERalpha- and ERbeta-mediated transactivation, whereas other phytoestrogens, including daidzein and genistein, preferentially enhanced ERbeta-mediated transactivation. In conclusion, PM has a beneficial effect on lipid metabolism in postmenopausal women, which may result from the activation of gene transcription through selective binding of phytoestrogens to ERalpha and ERbeta.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Dyslipidemias / genetics
  • Dyslipidemias / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Phytoestrogens / isolation & purification
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacology*
  • Phytoestrogens / therapeutic use*
  • Placebos
  • Postmenopause* / drug effects
  • Protein Isoforms / agonists
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • Pueraria* / chemistry
  • Receptors, Estrogen / agonists*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / physiology


  • Phytoestrogens
  • Placebos
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Receptors, Estrogen