This project will investigate potential interactions between phytochemical-containing soy extracts and the prescription phamaceuticals, the statins. Statins are a pharmaceutical approach to reducing blood cholesterol levels, and soy supplements are an alternative, botanical approach to to reduce blood cholesterol levels. The long term goal of this research project is to enable individuals and physicians to include soy supplement products as a complementary treatment in addition to prescibing statin intake to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Currently, physicians typically advocate that individuals first use diet to try to reduce cholesterol levels. When a low-fat diet does not reduce cholesterol levels, then physicians will prescribe a cholesterol-lowering drug. Soy has been of interest since it is know that intake of soy reduces cholesterol levels. Nutrition researchers suspect a number of properties of soy may contribute to its cholesterol-lowering effect. Soy also has a second property, it can enhace the 'cytochrome P450' detoxification system of the liver. The P450 proteins enhance metabolism of organic compounds that enables them to be more easily excreted from the body. P450 proteins metabolize the category of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. This project will help determine how soy lowers cholesterol and which liver P450s are activated by soy. It appears that these two actions may simultaneously help and hinder the ability of an individual to lower their cholesterol levels while taking statins. This project will help provide critical information that could enhance the effectiveness of statins, help further lower an individual's cholesterol levels, and perhaps reduce the cost of routine drug therapy often required for those with elevated cholesterol levels. In the future, it may be possible to determine and chemically separate the different components of soy that reduce cholesterol and activate the P450 proteins. If this could be done, it is possible that a specific soy extract product could be produced that has a singular effect that helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
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