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J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 2;53(22):8542-50.

Soy processing affects metabolism and disposition of dietary isoflavones in ovariectomized BALB/c mice.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL 61801, USA.


Soy foods and nutritional supplements are widely consumed for potential health benefits. It was previously shown that isoflavone-supplemented diets, which contained equal genistein equivalents, differentially stimulated mammary tumor growth in athymic mice based on the degree of processing. This paper reports plasma pharmacokinetic analysis and metabolite identification using the parental mouse strain fed the same diets, which contained genistin, mixed isoflavones, Novasoy, soy molasses, or soy flour plus mixed isoflavones. Whereas the degree of soy processing did affect several parameters reflecting isoflavone bioavailability and gut microflora metabolism of daidzein to equol, stimulation of tumor growth correlated significantly with only the plasma concentration of aglycon genistein produced by the diets. This conclusion is consistent with the known estrogen agonist activity of genistein aglycon on mammary tumor growth. Conversely, plasma equol concentration was inversely correlated with the degree of soy processing. Although antagonism of genistein-stimulated tumor growth by equol could explain this result, the very low concentration of aglycon equol in plasma (12-fold lower relative to genistein) is inconsistent with any effect. These findings underscore the importance of food processing, which can remove non-nutritive components from soy, on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of isoflavones. Such changes in diet composition affect circulating, and presumably target tissue, concentrations of genistein aglycon, which initiates estrogen receptor-mediated processes required for the stimulation of tumor growth in a mouse model for postmenopausal breast cancer.

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