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J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jun 25;56(12):4806-12. doi: 10.1021/jf800101s. Epub 2008 May 22.

Metabolism of the lignan macromolecule into enterolignans in the gastrointestinal lumen as determined in the simulator of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem.

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Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET), Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University (UGent), Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


Estrogenic plant compounds from the human diet such as the lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG, 1) can exert biological activity in the human body upon ingestion and bioactivation to enterodiol (END, 5) and enterolactone (ENL, 6). Bioavailability of lignans is influenced by the food matrix and gut microbial action, of which the latter is subject to a large interindividual variation. In this study, the fate of the lignan precursor SDG, present in the lignan macromolecule of flax seed ( Linum usitatissimum), was determined during an artificial stomach and small intestinal digestion and during metabolism by two different enterolignan phenotypes in a TWINSHIME environment (TWIN Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem). The lignan macromolecule acted as a delivery system of SDG in the large intestine. SDG was only hydrolyzed into secoisolariciresinol (SECO, 2) through microbial action in the ascending colon, after which it was bioactivated into enterolignans from the transverse colon onward. Single demethylation was a first step in the bioactivation, followed by dehydroxylation. Enterolignan phenotypes remained stable throughout the experimental period. The establishment of END and ENL production equilibria reflected the subdominance of ENL-producing bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

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