Soy isoflavones and cellular mechanics.
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Soy isoflavones are diphenolic compounds that are frequently used for alternative treatment of ageing symptoms in both genders. They operate at principally two hierarchical levels of functional organization - cellular and molecular, while these 'types' of action appear to have indefinite borders. Soy isoflavone action at the cellular level involves inter alia the effects on cell mechanics. This epigenetic and modular determinant of cell function and fate is defined by: the anchorage to extracellular matrix (ECM) and neighboring cells, cytoskeleton organization, membrane tension and vesicle trafficking. Soy isoflavones have been reported to: (i) generally fashion an inert cell phenotype in some cancers and enhance the cell anchorage in connective tissues, via the effects on ECM proteins, focal adhesion kinases-mediated events and matrix metalloproteinases inhibition; (ii) affect cytoskeleton integrity, the effects being related to Ca(2+) ions fluxes and involving cell retraction or differentiation/proliferation-related variations in mechanical status; (iii) increase, remain "silent" or decrease membrane tension/fluidity, which depends on polarity and a number and arrangement of functional groups in applied isoflavone; (iv) provoke inhibitory effects on vesicle trafficking and exo-/endocytosis, which are usually followed by changed cell morphology. Here we present and discuss the abundance of effects arising from cells' "encounter" with soy isoflavones, focusing on different morphofunctional definers of cell mechanics.