Somatopause, Weaknesses of the Therapeutic Approaches and the Cautious Optimism Based on Experimental Ageing Studies With Soy Isoflavones

EXCLI J. 2018 Mar 21;17:279-301. doi: 10.17179/excli2017-956. eCollection 2018.


The pathological phenomenon of somatopause, noticeable in hypogonadal ageing subjects, is based on the growth hormone (GH) production and secretion decrease along with the fall in GH binding protein and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels, causing different musculoskeletal, metabolic and mental issues. From the perspective of safety and efficacy, GH treatment is considered to be highly controversial, while some other therapeutic approaches (application of IGF-1, GH secretagogues, gonadal steroids, cholinesterase-inhibitors or various combinations) exhibit more or less pronounced weaknesses in this respect. Soy isoflavones, phytochemicals that have already demonstrated the health benefits in treated elderly, at least experimentally reveal their potential for the somatopausal symptoms remediation. Namely, genistein enhanced GHRH-stimulated cAMP accumulation and GH release in rat anterior pituitary cells; refreshed and stimulated the somatotropic system (hypothalamic nuclei and pituitary GH cells) function in a rat model of the mild andropause, and stimulated the GH output in ovariectomized ewes as well as the amplitude of GH pulses in the rams. Daidzein, on the other hand, increased body mass, trabecular bone mass and decreased bone turnover in the animal model of severe andropause, while both isoflavones demonstrated blood cholesterol-lowering effect in the same model. These data, which necessarily need to be preclinically and clinically filtered, hint some cautious optimism and call for further innovative designing of balanced soy isoflavone-based therapeutics.

Keywords: experimental ageing; somatopause; soy isoflavones; therapy.

Publication types

  • Review