Open Access Open Badges Research article

Estrogen-like activity of aqueous extract from Agrimonia pilosa Ledeb. in MCF-7 cells

Young Min Lee1*, Jung Bong Kim1, Ji Hyun Bae1, Jong Suk Lee2, Pan-Soo Kim2, Hwan Hee Jang1 and Haeng Ran Kim1

Author Affiliations

1 Functional Food & Nutrition Division, Department of Agro-food Resources, National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Suwon, Republic of Korea

2 Gyeonggi Biocenter, Gyeonggi Institute of Science and Technology Promotion, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:260  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-260

Published: 21 December 2012



Postmenopausal women experience estrogen deficiency-related menopausal symptoms (e.g., hot flashes and mood swings) and a dramatic increase in the incidence of chronic diseases. Although estrogen-replacement therapy (ERT) can reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease and improve osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms, its side effects have limited recent use. This study investigated the estrogen-like activity of aqueous extract from Agrimonia pilosa Ledeb.


The estrogenic activity of A. pilosa was investigated by using several in vitro assays. The binding activity of A. pilosa on estrogen receptors was examined using a fluorescence polarization-based competitive binding assay. The proliferative activity of A. pilosa was also examined using MCF-7 cells. Furthermore, the effect of A. pilosa on the expression of 3 estrogen-dependent genes was assessed.


Using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, the 3 major peaks of A. pilosa aqueous extract were identified as apigenin-hexose, luteolin-glucuronide, and apigenin-glucuronide. The aqueous extract induced the proliferation of estrogen receptor-positive MCF-7 cells (p < 0.05). A. pilosa-stimulated proliferation was blocked on adding the estrogen antagonist ICI 182,780. Moreover, A. pilosa treatment increased the mRNA expression of the estrogen-responsive genes pS2 and PR (p < 0.05).


These results suggest A. pilosa can be used to improve estrogen deficiency-related menopausal symptoms or to treat diseases in postmenopausal women.

MCF-7 proliferation assay; Estrogenic activity; Agrimonia pilosa; Metabolic syndrome