Focus on breast and prostate cancer


Institute of Biomedicine & Functional Foods Forum
FI-20014 University of Turku, Finland

Research group:

Gabriela Chacon, MSc; Matias Knuuttila, MSc; Lauri Polari, M.Sc.; Niina Saarinen-Aaltonen, PhD

Main research objectives:

The main goal is to clarify the role of dietary factors in the development of hormone-dependent cancers. The focus is on altered sex steroid action, associated with obesity-related metabolic dysregulation, and its impact on the development of breast and prostate cancer. More specifically, we explore the mechanisms by which plant-derived polyphenols (such as lignans, stilbenoids and isoflavonoids) modulate estrogen action in normal and cancerous tissues.


Laajala TD, Corander J, Saarinen NM, Mäkelä K, Savolainen S, Suominen MI, Alhoniemi E, Mäkelä S, Poutanen M, Aittokallio T: Improved Statistical Modeling of Tumor Growth and Treatment Effect in Preclinical Animal Studies with Highly Heterogeneous Responses In Vivo. Clin Cancer Res 8: 4385-4396, 2012

Strauss L, Rantakari P, Sjögren K, Salminen A, Lauren E, Kallio J, Damdimopoulou P, Boström M, Boström PJ, Pakarinen P, Zhang F, Kujala P, Ohlsson C, Mäkelä S, Poutanen M: Seminal vesicles and urinary bladder as sites of aromatization of androgens in men, evidenced by a CYP19A1-driven luciferase reporter mouse and human tissue specimens. FASEB J 27: 1342-1350, 2013

Damdimopoulou P, Nurmi T, Salminen A, Damdimopoulos AE, Kotka M, van der Saag P, Strauss L, Poutanen M, Pongratz I, Mäkelä S. A single dose of enterolactone activates estrogen signaling and regulates expression of circadian clock genes in mice. J Nutr 1411583-9, 2011

Ali I, Penttinen-Damdimopoulou P, Mäkelä SI, Berglund M, Stenius U, Åkesson A, Håkansson, H., Halldin, K. Estrogen-Like Effects of Cadmium in vivo do not Appear to be Mediated via the Classical Estrogen Receptor Transcriptional Pathway. Environ Health Perspect 118:1389-1394, 2010

Penttinen-Damdimopoulou PE, Power KA, Hurmerinta TT, Nurmi T, van der Saag PT, Mäkelä SI. Dietary sources of lignans and isoflavones modulate responses to estradiol in estrogen reporter mice. Mol Nutr Food Res 53:996-1006, 2009

Saarinen NM, Wärri A, Dings RPM, Airio M, Smeds AI, Mäkelä S. Dietary lariciresinol attenuates mammary tumor growth and reduces blood vessel density in human MCF-7 breast cancer xenografts and carcinogen-induced mammary tumors in rats. Int J Cancer 123:1196-1204, 2008

Penttinen P, Jaehrling, J, Damdimopoulos AE, Inzunza J, Lemmen, JG, van der Saag P, Pettersson K, Gauglitz G, Mäkelä S, Pongratz I. Diet-derived polyphenol metabolite enterolactone is a tissue-specific estrogen receptor activator. Endocrinology 148:4875-4876, 2007

Savolainen S, Pakarainen T, Huhtaniemi I, Poutanen M, Mäkelä S. Delay of Postnatal Maturation Sensitizes the Mouse Prostate to Testosterone-Induced Pronounced Hyperplasia: Protective Role of Estrogen Receptor-β. Am J Pathol 171:1013-1022, 2007

Principal Investigators
Sari Mäkelä, MD, PhD
Professor of Biomedicine

Niina Saarinen, PhD
Senior Scientist

Institute of Biomedicine & Functional Foods Forum

Sari Mäkelä