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The Relation Between the Chemical Structure of Flavonoids and Their Estrogen-Like Activities

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Estrogens are steroid hormones exhibiting a broad range of physiological activities, which are important in the homeostatic regulation of many cellular and biochemical events. Estradiol (E2) is an estrogen which is active in the development of the mammary glands and the uterus, in the maintenance of pregnancy and bone density, in protection from cardiovascular diseases, and in the relief of menopausal symptoms. However, it can also stimulate malignant growths, and hence contribute to the development of estrogen-dependent tumors, such as cancer of the breast and uterus. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived chemicals with estrogen-like activities, which could have a beneficial role in humans against estrogen deficiency. Several studies relate the lower incidence of estrogen deficiency-related disease among women in the Eastern word to a diet rich in phytoestrogens. This compound comprises a variety of structurally diverse chemicals, with flavonoids as their largest group. In the present review we summarize knowledge gained on the relationship between the structure of flavonoids to their ability to mimic estrogen activity, together with the methods adapted to perform these studies. The methods reviewed are qualitative and quantitative measurements of the estrogen-like activities of phytoestrogens, superposition analysis, docking analysis and quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) models. The potential of various new flavonoid derivatives in hormone replacment therapy is discussed.
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Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; estrogen deficiency; estrogen-like activities; flavonoids; phytoestrogens

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Laboratory of Natural Medicinal Compounds, Migal-Galilee Technological Center, P.O.Box 831, Kiryat Shmona 11016, Israel.

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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