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Atherosclerosis. 1979 May;33(1):71-87.

Studies on the disposition of diosgenin in rats, dogs, monkeys and man.


Rats, dogs and squirrel monkeys were given a single oral dose of [4-(14)C]diosgenin. Virtually all of the radioactivity was excreted in the feces. All of the absorbed radioactivity was eliminated via the bile. The percent of dose absorbed decreased with increasing dose. The amount of radioactivity in livers of rats given [4-(14)C]diosgenin was less than that after [4-(14)C]cholesterol, but more than after [4-(14)C]beta-sitosterol. Absorbed radioactivity in rats distributed into tissues, most notably the liver, adrenals, and walls of the gastrointestinal tract. No serum diosgenin was detected after a single large dose to rats and dogs. After multiple doses (100 mg/kg/day for 4 weeks) of diosgenin to dogs, up to 15 micrograms/ml of unchanged diosgenin was found in serum. Serum from human subjects receiving 3 g/day of diosgenin for 4 weeks contained less than 1 microgram/ml of unchanged drug. After a single dose of [14C]diosgenin, several metabolites were detected in the bile of rats and dogs; the pattern of metabolites was dissimilar in the two species. No diosgenin or 7-hydroxydiosgenin was found. One of the major biliary metabolites was diosgenin monohydroxylated in the F ring, but the location of the hydroxyl group was different in the two species. Although rat caecal contents were capable of reducing diosgenin to smilagenin in vitro, no smilagenin was present in the feces of rats given chow supplemented with diosgenin. It was concluded that diosgenin is poorly absorbed in the species tested, and that the amount which is absorbed undergoes extensive biotransformation.

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