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Genes Nutr. 2012 Oct;7(4):567-74. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Epidemiological profiles between equol producers and nonproducers: a genomewide association study of the equol-producing phenotype.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology and Health Index, Center for Genome Science, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, #187 Osong saengmyeong 2-ro, Gangoe-myeon, Cheongwon-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do, 363-951, Korea.


Equol is a daidzein (a phytoestrogen isoflavone) metabolite of gut bacteria, and the ability to produce equol varies between individuals and reduces the risks of several diseases. We tested the effects of equol production on health in Koreans and identified the genetic factors that determine the equol-producing phenotype. In 1391 subjects, the equol-producing phenotype was determined, based on measurements of serum equol concentrations. The anthropometric and blood biochemical measurements between equol producers and nonproducers were analyzed by LC-MS/MS. Genetic factors were identified in a genomewide association study (GWAS), and the interaction between genetic factors and the equol-producing phenotype was examined. We observed that 70.1 % of the study population produced equol. Blood pressure was significantly lower in equol producers (beta ± SE = -1.35 ± 0.67, p = 0.045). In our genomewide association study, we identified 5 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (p < 1 × 10(-5)) in HACE1. The most significant SNP was rs6927608, and individuals with a minor allele of rs6927608 did not produce equol (odds ratio = 0.57 (95 % CI 0.45-0.72), p value = 2.5 × 10(-6)). Notably, the interaction between equol production and the rs6927608 HACE1 SNP was significantly associated with systolic blood pressure (p value = 1.3 × 10(4)). Equol production is linked to blood pressure, and HACE1, identified in our (GWAS), might be a determinant of the equol-producing phenotype.

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