Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are bound by steroid receptors, have steroid-like effects, and by this, negatively influence hormone-regulated processes. Phytoestrogens, which are consumed in enormously high amount by man, are also EDs; however, in contrast to industrial or communal EDs, in some cases have beneficial effects. As immune cells have steroid (first of all, estrogen) nuclear and plasma membrane receptors, which bind phytostrogens (genistein, daidzein, etc.), the development, lifespan, and function of them are deeply influenced by phytoestrogens. They can provoke perinatal faulty hormonal imprinting with lifelong consequences. However, faulty imprinting can be developed not only perinatally but also in other critical periods of life, as weaning, adolescence, and even in continuously dividing cells (e.g., hemopoietic cells) during the whole life. This means that the phytoestrogens could cause direct - instant or long-lasting - steroid effects and durable imprinting effects. As the effect of hormonal imprinting is epigenetically inherited, the phytoestrogen's effects appear in the progeny generations, and the generationally repeated disruptor effects will be different from the present ones. This could also be manifested in the amount, type, and appearance of autoimmune diseases. The consumption of soy is enormously growing, and its immune effect is extended. As the immune system influences basic physiological processes, it seems likely that evolutionary alterations will be observed. In this case, some phytoestrogens will be needed for the normal life of man, as it happened in the case of vitamins A and D, which are already life-important exohormones. However, quantitatively or qualitatively enormous amount of phytoestrogens will cause pathological and epigenetically inherited alterations.
- Hormonal imprinting
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)