Menopausal hormone therapy containing synthetic estrogens as marketed might prevent these conditions, but its prolonged use can increases the risk of breast cancer, as wells as endometrial cancer if used without progestins.
Animal studies indicate that beneficial effects of estrogens in adipose tissue; adverse effects on mammary gland and uterus are mediated by estrogen receptor alpha (ERα).
If we want to exploit the action of estrogens to prevent/treat obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome and at the same time block its action on endometrium of uterus and breast; it is imperative to develop estrogens that can act as agonists in adipose tissue, but not in mammary gland and uterus.
|Image via Wikipedia;Pueraria montana|
This type of tissue specific action from some plant extracts has been of interest in recent years. Extracts from two plants, Glycyrrhiza uralensis (RG) and Pueraria montana var. lobata (RP) bind to ERα, activated ERα responsive reporters, and reversed weight gain and fat accumulation comparable to estradiol in ovariectomized obese mice maintained on a high fat diet.
Unlike estradiol, RG and RP did not induce proliferative effects on mammary gland and uterus. Gene expression profiling demonstrated that RG and RP induced estradiol-like regulation of genes in abdominal fat, but not in mammary gland and uterus.
The compounds in extracts from RG and RP might constitute a new class of tissue selective estrogens to reverse weight gain, fat accumulation and metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.