Rapid analysis of phytoestrogens in human urine by time-resolved fluoroimmunoassay

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2000 Apr;72(5):273-82. doi: 10.1016/s0960-0760(00)00045-5.


A time-resolved fluoroimmunoassay (TR-FIA), with europium labeled phytoestrogens as tracers, was developed for the quantitative determination of enterolactone, genistein and daidzein in human urine. The aim was to create a method for the screening of large populations in order to assess the possible correlations between the urinary levels and the risk of Western diseases. After the synthesis of the 5'-carboxymethoxy derivative of enterolactone and 4'-O-carboxymethyl derivatives of daidzein and genistein, the respective compound was coupled to bovine serum albumin and then used as an antigen in the immunization of rabbits. The same derivatives of the phytoestrogen were used in preparing the europium tracers. After the enzymatic hydrolysis, the TR-FIA was carried out using the Victor 1420 multilabel counter. The method has sufficient sensitivity to measure the phytoestrogens at concentrations even below 5 nmol/l. The intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation, at three different concentrations, varied from 1.9 to 5.3 and from 2.4 to 9.7, respectively. We measured urinary enterolactone, genistein and daidzein in 215 samples from Finnish healthy women and found that more than 50% of the values ranged between 1 and 7, <0.1 and 0.6 and below 0.6 micromol/24 h, respectively. The TR-FIA method including only a hydrolysis step gave higher values than those measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). However, the assay results by the present method showed strong correlation with those obtained by GC-MS. It is concluded that the TR-FIA is suitable for population screening of urinary phytoestrogens.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives
  • 4-Butyrolactone / urine
  • Animals
  • Cross Reactions
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / urine*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Fluoroimmunoassay / methods*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Genistein / urine
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / urine
  • Lignans / urine
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Rabbits
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / immunology


  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Isoflavones
  • Lignans
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • daidzein
  • Genistein
  • 4-Butyrolactone
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butyrolactone