Objective of the present study is to determine the estrogenic effect of isoflavone on vaginal epithelia and bone metabolism in early postmenopausal women. Twenty-two postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to either a group that was given isoflavone extract (61.8 mg) for three months or a control group that was given placebo. We measured the L2-4 bone mineral density (BMD) before and 3 months after treatment by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Blood and urine samples were obtained from the women before and 3 months after treatment. We measured FSH using radioimmunoassay and, urinary pyridinoline and deoxypyridinoline levels by HPLC. For endocrine cytology, vaginal smears were collected before and 3 months after the treatment. Three months after the treatment, the serum FSH levels and the BMD values did not significantly differ between the two groups. Urinary excretion of isoflavone was significantly higher in the group given isoflavone compared with that given placebo (p<0.03). Numbers of parabasal and intermediate types of cells were significantly decreased (58.2 ± 12.4% to 25.0 ± 10.7%; p<0.05) and increased (24.1 ± 8.7% to 63.7 ± 10.7%; p<0.05), respectively in the isoflavone group, but remained unchanged in the control group. Urinary pyridinoline excretion was significantly decreased (49.6% vs. before, p<0.01 by paired t-test) in the isoflavone group. The intake of 60 mg of isoflavone daily for 3 months produced maturational changes of vaginal epithelia without affecting serum FSH levels, and could possibly slow down bone turnover rates as judged by decreased urinary pyridinoline excretion.
The Japan Endocrine Society