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J Nutr. 2007 Oct;137(10):2242-6.

Microbial and dietary factors are associated with the equol producer phenotype in healthy postmenopausal women.

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Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


Equol, a microbial metabolite of daidzein, has been hypothesized as a clue to the effectiveness of soy and its isoflavones but is excreted by only 33% of Caucasians. Microbial and dietary factors associated with the ability to harbor equol-producing bacteria were studied in a randomized dietary intervention trial with 100 healthy postmenopausal women. After a 4-d baseline period, subjects delivered first-void urine, fecal, and breath samples. During the 5-d treatment period, 3 portions of either soymilk or soy germ containing 28.51 and 37.99 mg isoflavone aglycone equivalents/portion, respectively, were administered daily, and on the last day, 24-h urine samples were collected. The urinary recoveries of genistein and daidzein from soymilk were significantly higher than those from soy germ tablets. Because the proportion of equol:(daidzein + metabolites) in the urine did not differ between the treatment groups, subjects were pooled and classified into poor, moderate, and strong equol producers based on this criterion. The strong equol producer phenotype correlated negatively [in vivo, r = -0.478 (-0.256 to -0.893), P = 0.021; in vitro, r = -0.576 (-0.350 to -0.949), P = 0.030] with Clostridium coccoides-Eubacterium rectale counts and positively [in vivo, r = 1.158 (0.971-1.380), P = 0.048; in vitro, r = 1.156 (1.007-1.327), P = 0.039] with the abundance of sulfate-reducing bacteria. Furthermore, persons with a higher PUFA [in vivo, r = 2.150 (1.058-4.371), P = 0.034; in vitro, r = 2.131 (1.144-3.967), P = 0.017] and alcohol [in vivo, r = 1.166 (0.721-1.887), P = 0.050; in vitro, r = 1.850 (1.215-2.817), P = 0.004] intake were more likely to be strong equol producers. Finally, we validated the daidzein metabolism by fecal cultures as screening assay to identify equol producers without dietary intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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