Effects of soy containing diet and isoflavones on cytochrome P450 enzyme expression and activity

Drug Metab Rev. 2016 Aug;48(3):331-41. doi: 10.1080/03602532.2016.1206562. Epub 2016 Jul 20.


Cytochromes P450 (CYPs) play an important role in metabolism and clearance of most clinically utilized drugs and other xenobiotics. They are important in metabolism of endogenous compounds including fatty acids, sterols, steroids and lipid-soluble vitamins. Dietary factors such as phytochemicals are capable of affecting CYP expression and activity, which may be important in diet-drug interactions and in the development of fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer. One important diet-CYP interaction is with diets containing plant proteins, particularly soy protein. Soy diets are traditionally consumed in Asian countries and are linked to lower incidence of several cancers and of cardiovascular disease in Asian populations. Soy is also an important protein source in vegetarian and vegan diets and the sole protein source in soy infant formulas. Recent studies suggest that consumption of soy can inhibit induction of CY1 enzymes by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which may contribute to cancer prevention. In addition, there are data to suggest that soy components promiscuously activate several nuclear receptors including PXR, PPAR and LXR resulting in increased expression of CYP3As, CYP4As and CYPs involved in metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids. Such soy-CYP interactions may alter drug pharmacokinetics and therapeutic efficacy and are associated with improved lipid homeostasis and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The current review summarizes results from in vitro; in vivo and clinical studies of soy-CYP interactions and examines the evidence linking the effects of soy diets on CYP expression to isoflavone phytoestrogens, particularly, genistein and daidzein that are associated with soy protein.

Keywords: Cytochrome P450; daidzein; genistein; isoflavone; nuclear receptor; soy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Diet*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects*
  • Genistein / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / pharmacology*
  • Soybean Proteins / pharmacology*


  • Isoflavones
  • Soybean Proteins
  • daidzein
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Genistein