Genistein, a Soy Phytoestrogen, Reverses Severe Pulmonary Hypertension and Prevents Right Heart Failure in Rats
Pretreatment with a phytoestrogen genistein has been shown to attenuate the development of pulmonary hypertension (PH). Because PH is not always diagnosed early, we examined whether genistein could also reverse preexisting established PH and prevent associated right heart failure (RHF). PH was induced in male rats by 60 mg/kg of monocrotaline. After 21 days, when PH was well established, rats received daily injection of genistein (1 mg/kg per day) for 10 days or were left untreated to develop RHF by day 30. Effects of genistein on human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell and endothelial cell proliferation and neonatal rat ventricular myocyte hypertrophy were assessed in vitro. Severe PH was evident 21 days after monocrotaline, as peak systolic right ventricular pressure increased to 66.35±1.03 mm Hg and right ventricular ejection fraction reduced to 41.99±1.27%. PH progressed to RHF by day 30 (right ventricular pressure, 72.41±1.87 mm Hg; RV ejection fraction, 29.25±0.88%), and mortality was ≈75% in RHF rats. Genistein therapy resulted in significant improvement in lung and heart function as right ventricular pressure was significantly reduced to 43.34±4.08 mm Hg and right ventricular ejection fraction was fully restored to 65.67±1.08% similar to control. Genistein reversed PH-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling in vivo and inhibited human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell proliferation by ≈50% in vitro likely through estrogen receptor-β. Genistein also reversed right ventricular hypertrophy (right ventricular hypertrophy index, 0.35±0.029 versus 0.70±0.080 in RHF), inhibited neonatal rat ventricular myocyte hypertrophy, and restored PH-induced loss of capillaries in the right ventricle. These improvements in cardiopulmonary function and structure resulted in 100% survival by day 30. Genistein restored PH-induced downregulation of estrogen receptor-β expression in the right ventricle and lung. In conclusion, genistein therapy not only rescues preexisting severe PH but also prevents the progression of severe PH to RHF.
- Received January 16, 2012.
- Revision received February 13, 2012.
- Accepted May 20, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.