BACKGROUNDThe purpose of these experiments was to test the hypothesis that dietary phytoestrogens would diminish experimental aortic aneurysm formation.MATERIALS AND METHODSSix-wk-old C57BL/6 mice were divided into groups, fed either a diet with minimal phytoestrogen content or a regular commercial rodent diet with high phytoestrogen content for 2 wk. At the age of 8 wk, aortic aneurysms were induced by infusing the isolated infrarenal abdominal aorta with 0.4% elastase for 5 min. Mice were recovered and the diameter of the infused aorta was measured at postoperative days 3, 7, and 14. Abdominal aorta samples were collected for histology, cytokine array, and gelatin zymography after aortic diameter measurement. Blood samples were also collected to determine serum phytoestrogens and estradiol levels. Multiple-group comparisons were done using an analysis of variance with post hoc Tukey tests.RESULTSCompared with mice on a minimal phytoestrogen diet, mice on a regular rodent diet had higher levels of serum phytoestrogens (male, 1138 ± 846 ng/dL; female, 310 ± 295 ng/dL). These serum phytoestrogen levels were also much higher than their own endogenous estradiol levels (109-fold higher for males and 35.5-fold higher for females). Although aortic diameters of female mice were unaffected by the phytoestrogen concentration in the diets, male mice on the regular rodent diet (M+ group) developed smaller aortic aneurysms than male mice on the minimal phytoestrogen diet (M- group) on postoperative day 14 (M+ 54.8 ± 8.8% versus M- 109.3 ± 37.6%; P CONCLUSIONSThese results suggest that dietary phytoestrogens inhibit experimental aortic aneurysm formation in male mice via a reduction of the inflammatory response in the aorta wall. The protective effect of dietary phytoestrogens on aneurysm formation warrants further investigation.