Dietary intake of phytoestrogen is associated with increased circulating endothelial progenitor cells in patients with cardiovascular disease

Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2011 Jun;18(3):360-8. doi: 10.1177/1741826710389385. Epub 2011 Feb 14.


Endogenous estrogen is known to positively influence the level and functionality of endothelial progenitor cells (EPC). However, the effect of phytoestrogen on EPC is unknown. Isoflavone is a major component of phytoestrogen. This study aims to investigate if the intake of isoflavone has any impact on the circulating level of EPC. We studied 102 consecutive patients (mean age: 66.5 ± 9.5 years, 78% male, all female post-menopausal) with cardiovascular disease (atherothrombotic stroke 62%, coronary artery disease 38%). Circulating levels of CD133(+) EPC were determined by flow cytometry. Non-invasive pulse wave velocity (PWV) was measured. Long-term intake of isoflavone was determined by a validated food frequency questionnaire. Isoflavone intake was positively associated with circulating CD133(+) EPC (r = 0.31, p = 0.001). Patients with circulating CD133(+) EPC <10th percentile had significantly lower isoflavone intake than patients with CD133(+)EPC ≥10th percentile (4.6 ± 3.7 mg/day versus 19.3 ± 30.2 mg/day, p < 0.001). A significant overall linear trend of circulating EPC across increasing tertiles of isoflavone intake was observed (p = 0.004). Adjusted for potential confounders, increased isoflavone intake from the 1st to the 3rd tertile independently predicted increased circulating CD133(+) EPC level by 221 cells/µl (95%CI: 71.4 to 369.8, relative increase 160%, p = 0.004). Gender was not a significant factor (p > 0.05). Furthermore, circulating CD133(+) EPC <10th percentile was independently predictive of increased PWV by 261.7 cm/s (95% CI: 37.1 to 486.2, p = 0.024). The study demonstrated that circulating EPC increased by more than one fold in patients with cardiovascular disease who had higher intake of isoflavone, suggesting that isoflavone may confer vascular protection through enhanced endothelial repair.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diet therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phytoestrogens / administration & dosage*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Phytoestrogens