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Soy diet worsens heart disease in mice, says University of Colorado at Boulder study

A University of Colorado at Boulder study has shown the health of mice carrying a genetic mutation for a disease that is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in people under 30 worsened considerably when the animals were fed a soy-based diet.

Male mice carrying the mutation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, were severely affected by the soy diet, exhibiting progressively enlarged heart muscles and eventual heart failure, said CU-Boulder Professor Leslie Leinwand. When the mice in the study were switched to a diet of the milk protein, casein, the condition of the males improved markedly, said Leinwand, chief author of the study.

Female mice carrying the mutation for HCM, which is characterized by the thickening of heart muscle that can obstruct blood flow, were relatively unaffected, she said. The research team hypothesized that heart deterioration in male mice was due at least in part to plant-based estrogens in the soy food diet that triggered a cascade of biochemical reactions and ultimately increased apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in the heart.

"We were shocked by the results," said Leinwand, chair of the molecular, cellular and developmental biology department and chief study author. "This study shows that at least in mice, diet can have a more profound effect on heart disease than any drug that we could imagine."

A paper on the subject by Leinwand, Dr. Brian Stauffer, a cardiologist at Denver Health Medical Center and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, CU-Boulder research associate John Konhilas and doctoral student Elizabeth Luczak appears in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, one of the nation's leading medical journals.

"To our knowledge this is the first report of significant differences in cardiac muscle adaptation due to dietary manipulation," the researchers wrote in JCI.

The CU research team speculated the soy diet affected male mice mo
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Contact: Leslie Leinwand
leslie.leinwand@colorado.edu
303-492-7606
University of Colorado at Boulder
4-Jan-2006


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