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Arch Microbiol. 2003 Jul;180(1):11-6. Epub 2003 May 29.

Variations in metabolism of the soy isoflavonoid daidzein by human intestinal microfloras from different individuals.

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Division of Microbiology, National Center for Toxicological Research, U.S. FDA, Jefferson, AR 72079, USA.


Isoflavonoids found in legumes, such as soybeans, are converted by intestinal bacteria to metabolites that might have increased or decreased estrogenic activity. Variation in the effects of dietary isoflavonoids among individuals has been attributed to differences in their metabolism by intestinal bacteria. To investigate this variation, the metabolism of the isoflavonoid daidzein by bacteria from ten fecal samples, provided at different times by six individuals on soy-containing diets, was compared. After anaerobic incubation of bacteria with daidzein for 2 weeks, four samples had metabolized daidzein and six samples had not. Three of the positive samples were from individuals whose microflora had not metabolized daidzein in previous samples. Dihydrodaidzein was observed in one sample, dihydrodaidzein and equol in another sample, and equol and O-desmethylangolensin in two other samples. These results corroborate the hypothesis that the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract of an individual influences the particular isoflavone metabolites produced following consumption.

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