Dietary soy oil content and soy-derived phytoestrogen genistein increase resistance to alopecia areata onset in C3H/HeJ mice.

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Animals, Dietary-Fats-Unsaturated, Disease-Susceptibility, Dose-Response-Relationship-Drug, Estrogens-Non-Steroidal, Genistein, Isoflavones, Mice, Mice-Inbred-C3H, Plant-Preparations, Soybean-Oil

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see Reprint Collection

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Exp Dermatol 2003 Feb; 12(1):30-6.


Alopecia areata (AA) is a complex, multi-factorial disease where genes and the environment may affect susceptibility and severity. Diet is an environmental factor with the potential to influence disease susceptibility. We considered dietary soy (soya) oil content and the soy-derived phytoestrogen genistein as potential modifying agents for C3H/HeJ mouse AA. Normal haired C3H/HeJ mice were grafted with skin from spontaneous AA affected mice, a method previously shown to induce AA. Grafted mice were given one of three diets containing 1%, 5% or 20% soy oil and observed for AA development. In a separate study, mice on a 1% soy oil diet were injected with 1 mg of genistein three times per week for 10 weeks or received the vehicle as a control. Of mice on 1%, 5%, and 20% soy oil diets, 43 of 50 mice (86%), 11 of 28 mice (39%), and 2 of 11 mice (18%) developed AA, respectively. Four of 10 mice injected with genistein and 9 of 10 controls developed AA. Mice with AA had hair follicle inflammation consistent with observations for spontaneous mouse AA, but no significant association was observed between the extent of hair loss and diet or genistein injection. Mice that failed to develop AA typically experience white hair regrowth from their skin grafts associated with a moderate macrophage and dendritic cell infiltration. Soy oil and derivatives have previously been reported to modify inflammatory conditions. Hypothetically, soy oil compounds may act on C3H/HeJ mice through modulating estrogen-dependent mechanisms and/or inflammatory activity to modify AA susceptibility.

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