Objective: To evaluate the effects of soy isoflavone administration on endothelial function in healthy postmenopausal women. Design: Sixty naturally postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to receive isoflavone or placebo tablets for 6 months. Endothelium-dependent vasodilatation was measured by brachial reactivity technique along with levels of plasma soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), E-selectin, P-selectin and soluble thrombomodulin, von Willebrand factor, and tissue plasminogen activator. Differences between endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent vasodilatation were assessed by evaluating brachial reactivity parameters after reactive hyperemia and after sublingual administration of nitroglycerin; furthermore, in the active group, the effect of isoflavones was also evaluated during the intra-arterial infusion of N G-monomethyl-L-arginine. Serum levels of lipids [high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoprotein(a)] and hemostatic factors (prothrombin, fibrinogen, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, and fibrin D-dimer) were also measured. To confirm the absorption of isoflavones, their blood concentrations were determined. Results: Isoflavone treatment versus placebo was associated with a significant improvement in endothelium-dependent vasodilatation but had no impact on endothelial-independent arterial diameter and flow. Intra-arterial infusion of N G-monomethyl-L-arginine inhibited the significant effect of isoflavones on endothelium-mediated vasodilatation. Furthermore, isoflavone group experienced statistically significant reductions in plasma concentrations of ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin. Levels of soluble thrombomodulin, von Willebrand factor, tissue plasminogen activator, lipids, and hemostatic factors did not change significantly throughout the study in both groups. Conclusions: Our findings suggest a positive influence of soy isoflavones on endothelial function in healthy postmenopausal women as evidenced by an improvement in endothelium-dependent vasodilatation and a reduction in plasma adhesion molecule levels
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