Thomas B. Clarkson, DVM
Professor of Comparative Medicine
Diplomate, ACLAM, Laboratory Animal Medicine
Postmenopausal Coronary Artery Atherosclerosis, Estrogens, Phytoestrogens, Diet
Our objective is to better understand the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis by observing the similarities and dissimilarities in lesion development between human beings and various animal species, especially nonhuman primates. A particular focus of our research is women's health, particularly illnesses like osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases that are exacerbated because of the natural loss of estrogen when women go through menopause.
Although we know traditional hormone replacement therapy confers benefits, very few women are compliant when prescribed treatment. Our group has focused intensely over the past several years on phytoestrogens, the naturally occurring plant estrogens found in many foods. Using our postmenopausal cynomolgus macaque model, we have obtained experimental evidence that soy phytoestrogens may be a useful alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The soy phytoestrogens improve plasma lipoprotein profiles, inhibit atherogenesis, upregulate brain molecular markers important for cognition and, importantly, are estrogen antagonist for breast and endometrium. Currently, we are seeking to understand the relationships between dose and outcomes important to both males and females, the mechanisms by which the phytoestrogens so markedly increase Apo A1 and decrease LDL cholesterol, the importance of soy protein per se to its phytoestrogen effects, and to elucidate the relative potency of the two major phytoestrogens (genistein and daidzein) in cardioprotection.
FIGURE 1: Schematic design of a woman's risk of cardiovascular disease over the life span. A focus of investigations throughout the Center is the assessment of factors that create the high-risk trajectory, and which interventions can alter that trajectory to a low-risk one.
Link to PubMed Database