Genistein modulates immune responses and increases host resistance to B16F10 tumor in adult female B6C3F1 mice
Abstract The isoflavone genistein (4,7,4'-trihydroxyisoflavone) is a phytoestrogen found in high levels in soy products that has been associated with decreased incidences of breast and prostate cancers. The potential effects of genistein on the immune system were evaluated in adult female B6C3F1 mice. Groups of mice were exposed to vehicle or genistein by gavage for 28 d. The doses of genistein used were 2, 6 and 20 mg/kg body. Consistent with the chemopreventive effect of genistein, exposure to this compound significantly increased host resistance to B16F10 tumor as reflected by a decrease in the number of lung tumor nodules after tumor cell injection at the middle and high dose levels. Inhibition of B16F10 tumor formation was not due to a direct effect of serum genistein and/or its metabolites on the proliferation of B16F10 tumor cells. When innate and acquired immune responses were evaluated, a dose-related increase of cytotoxic T-cell activity was observed in genistein-treated mice with significant changes observed at the middle and high dose levels. Furthermore, in vitro interleukin (IL)-2-stimulated natural killer (NK) cell activity was significantly enhanced in the high genistein dose group, although the basal NK cell activity was not affected. Although no affect on the mixed lymphocyte responses and anti-CD3 antibody-mediated splenocyte proliferation was observed, exposure to genistein significantly increased basal splenocyte proliferation. Exposure to genistein did not alter the activity of the mononuclear phagocyte system and the cytotoxic/cytostatic function of thioglycollate-recruited peritoneal cells on B16F10 tumor cells. Finally, exposure to genistein did not produce biologically meaningful changes in spleen immunoglobulin (Ig)M and IgG antibody-forming cell responses. In conclusion, genistein enhanced host resistance as evaluated in the B16F10 tumor model, which may be related to the increases in the activities of cytotoxic T cells and NK cells.