The potential benefit of soy isoflavones in breast cancer chemoprevention, as suggested by epidemiological studies, has aroused the interest of numerous scientists for over twenty years. Although intensive work has been done in this field, the preclinical results continue to be controversial and the molecular mechanisms are far from being fully understood. The antiproliferative effect of soy isoflavones has been commonly linked to the estrogen receptor interaction, but there is growing evidence that other pathways are influenced as well. Among these, the regulation of apoptosis, cell proliferation and survival, inhibition of angiogenesis and metastasis or antioxidant properties have been recently explored using various isoflavone doses and various breast cancer cells. In this review, we offer a comprehensive perspective on the molecular mechanisms of isoflavones observed in in vitro
studies, emphasizing each time the dose-effect relationship and estrogen receptor status of the cells. Furthermore, we present future research directions in this field which could provide a better understanding of the inner molecular mechanisms of soy isoflavones in breast cancer.
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