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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Sep 24;1674(2):122-30.

Biotransformation of soy isoflavone-glycosides in laying hens: intestinal absorption and preferential accumulation into egg yolk of equol, a more estrogenic metabolite of daidzein.

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Nutrition Research Laboratories, Honen Corporation, Shimizushinminato 2, Shizuoka 424-0824 Japan.


Dietary soy-isoflavones have recently been noted as phytoestrogens with potentially beneficial effects on human health, and they are biologically transformed in the intestinal tract into aglycones and further into several specific metabolites. Here we report that in laying hens daidzin, a soy isoflavone-glycoside, in the diet was transformed into equol, absorbed, transported in circulating peripheral blood, and preferentially accumulated into egg yolk in its conjugated form. Laying hens were fed experimental diets containing two levels of soy isoflavone-glycosides (177 or 528 mg per 100 g diet) for 21 or 42 days, and blood and eggs were collected at 1- to 9-day intervals. HPLC analyses revealed that most of the isoflavones (daidzein, glycitein, and genistein) and a metabolite, equol, were present in blood and egg yolk in conjugated form. The concentration of equol-conjugates in blood plasma and egg yolk was higher than any of the other three isoflavone-conjugates analyzed and, especially in egg yolk, the equol-conjugates comprised no less than 60% of the total isoflavone-conjugates. The isoflavones, including equol, distributed mostly (95%) in the high-density fraction of blood serum, and more (65%) in the granule fraction of egg yolk. These results raise the possibility that feeding domestic animals soy-based fodder produces animal-based foods rich in a more active form of phytoestrogens.

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