Most Western countries face high and increasing rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Each year, heart disease kills more people than cancer. The increasing risk of CVD in woman after postmenopausal changes suggests that estrogen has cardioprotective effects. It is well known that estrogen binds to estrogen receptors (ER) and mediates its effects via different pathways and thereby influences various systems in the male and female physiology.
Phytoestrogens, natural constituents of many plants, seeds and grains are oestrogen like ligands with numerous effects to the human body. They are similar to estrogens and bind to ERs, they are supposed to mimic the effects of estrogens and mediate these acitivities via ERs. However, recent findings suggest that phytoestrogens bind to PPAR- γ receptors. Together with the fact, that the protective effects of the phytoestrogen genistein are not blocked by ER antagonist and that PPAR- γ agonists are also cardioprotective we investigated, whether the protective action of phytoestrogens may be PPAR- γ mediated.