Effect of combined lignan phytoestrogen and melatonin treatment on secretion of steroid hormones by adrenal carcinoma cells

Am J Vet Res. 2011 May;72(5):675-80. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.72.5.675.


Objective: To investigate the in vitro effect of the combination of lignan enterolactone (ENL) or lignan enterodiol (END) with melatonin on steroid hormone secretion and cellular aromatase content in human adrenal carcinoma cells.

Sample: Human adrenocortical carcinoma cells.

Procedures: Melatonin plus ENL or END was added to cell culture medium along with cAMP (100μM); control cells received cAMP alone. Medium and cell lysates were collected after 24 and 48 hours of cultivation. Samples of medium were analyzed for progesterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, androstenedione, aldosterone, estradiol, and cortisol concentration by use of radioimmunoassays. Cell lysates were used for western blot analysis of aromatase content.

Results: The addition of ENL or END with melatonin to cAMP-stimulated cells (treated cells) resulted in significant decreases in estradiol, androstenedione, and cortisol concentrations at 24 and 48 hours, compared with concentrations in cells stimulated with cAMP alone (cAMP control cells). The addition of these compounds to cAMP-stimulated cells also resulted in higher progesterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone concentrations than in cAMP control cells; aldosterone concentration was not affected by treatments. Compared with the content in cAMP control cells, aromatase content in treated cells was significantly lower.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: The combination of lignan and melatonin affected steroid hormone secretion by acting directly on adrenal tumor cells. Results supported the concept that this combination may yield similar effects on steroid hormone secretion by the adrenal glands in dogs with typical and atypical hyperadrenocorticism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / pharmacology
  • Adrenal Glands / drug effects*
  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aromatase / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Lignans / pharmacology*
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacology*
  • Steroids / analysis
  • Steroids / biosynthesis*


  • Lignans
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Steroids
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butane-1,4-diol
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Aromatase
  • Melatonin
  • 4-Butyrolactone
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butyrolactone