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Bioorg Med Chem. 2004 Mar 15;12(6):1559-67.

Equol, a natural estrogenic metabolite from soy isoflavones: convenient preparation and resolution of R- and S-equols and their differing binding and biological activity through estrogen receptors alpha and beta.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois, 600 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Equol is a metabolite produced in vivo from the soy phytoestrogen daidzein by the action of gut microflora. It is known to be estrogenic, so human exposure to equol could have significant biological effects. Equol is a chiral molecule that can exist as the enantiomers R-equol and S-equol. To study the biological activity of racemic (+/-)-equol, as well as that of its pure enantiomers, we developed an efficient and convenient method to prepare (+/-)-equol from available isoflavanoid precursors. Furthermore, we optimized a method to separate the enantiomers of equol by chiral HPLC, and we studied for the first time, the activities of the enantiomers on the two estrogen receptors, ERalpha and ERbeta. In binding assays, S-equol has a high binding affinity, preferential for ERbeta (K(i)[ERbeta]=16 nM; beta/alpha=13 fold), that is comparable to that of genistein (K(i)[ERbeta]=6.7 nM; beta/alpha=16), whereas R-equol binds more weakly and with a preference for ERalpha (K(i)[ERalpha]=50 nM; beta/alpha=0.29). All equol isomers have higher affinity for both ERs than does the biosynthetic precursor daidzein. The availability and the in vitro characterization of the equol enantiomers should enable their biological effects to be studied in detail.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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