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Estrogenic activity of isoflavonoids from Onobrychis ebenoides.


Fractionation of the neutral extract of Onobrychis ebenoides (Leguminosae) yielded a new isoflavone, named ebenosin (1), in addition to the known ones, afrormosin (2), formononetin (3) and daidzein (4). Although the relative binding affinities of 1 - 4 for estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) were nearly comparable and matched those of 1-3 for ERbeta, that of 4 for the latter receptor was significantly higher than any of the other. Compounds 1 - 4 induced cell proliferation and gene expression in breast and endometrial cancer cells in an ER-dependent manner. Nonetheless, the rank order of induction potencies ( 4 > 3 >or= 2 >or= 1) matched better that of affinities for ERbeta ( 4 > 3 >or= 2 >or= 1) rather than ERalpha ( 4 >or= 3 >or= 2 >or= 1). While the antiestrogen ICI 182,780 could inhibit the induction of proliferation of ER-positive breast cancer cells by 1-4, it could not prevent 1 from exhibiting significant ER-independent cytotoxicity at 10 microM. By contrast, 1 was much less cytotoxic and only weakly estrogenic for ER-positive endometrial adenocarcinoma cells. In conclusion, our data suggest that the C-8 isoprenyl substituent of 1 renders it cytotoxic and/or estrogenic in a cell-dependent manner.