Structure and concentration changes affect characterization of UGT isoform-specific metabolism of isoflavones

Mol Pharm. 2009 Sep-Oct;6(5):1466-82. doi: 10.1021/mp8002557.


We characterized the isoform specific glucuronidation of six isoflavones, genistein, daidzein, glycitein, formononetin, biochanin A and prunetin, using 12 expressed human UGTs and human intestinal and liver microsomes. The results indicated that these isoflavones are metabolized most rapidly at three different concentrations by one of these four UGT isoforms: UGT1A1, UGT1A8, UGT1A9 and UGT1A10. Furthermore, glycitein was usually metabolized the fastest whereas prunetin the slowest. Using the rates of metabolism by 12 UGT isoforms as a means to establish the metabolic "fingerprint", we found that each isoflavone had distinctive concentration-dependent patterns. Determination of kinetic parameters of glucuronidation using genistein and prunetin indicated that the distinct concentration-dependent metabolic patterns were the result of differences in K(m) and V(max) values. We then measured how well metabolic "fingerprinting" predicted metabolism of these isoflavones by human intestinal and liver microsomes. We found that the prediction was rather successful for five isoflavones in the liver microsomes, but not successful in the intestinal microsomes. We propose that a newly discovered UGT3A1 isoform capable of metabolizing phenols and estrogens might be responsible for the metabolism of isoflavones such as formononetin in humans. In conclusion, the first systematic study of metabolic "fingerprinting" of six common isoflavones showed that each isoflavone has UGT isoform-specific metabolic patterns that are concentration-dependent and predictive of metabolism of the isoflavones in liver microsomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glucuronides / chemistry
  • Glucuronides / metabolism
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Isoflavones / chemistry*
  • Isoflavones / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Microsomes / metabolism
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • Substrate Specificity
  • UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase 1A9


  • Glucuronides
  • Isoenzymes
  • Isoflavones
  • UGT1A9 protein, human
  • UGT1A1 enzyme
  • bilirubin uridine-diphosphoglucuronosyl transferase 1A10
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase 1A9
  • UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, UGT1A8